Sunday, June 24, 2018
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Eagle girls claim Sandhills Conference title

It took a little while for the Brady girls to find their stride Saturday night.

It’s a good thing coming from behind doesn’t seem to be a problem for the Eagles.

“Giving up a lead is not part of our game plan,” said Brady coach Lynne Johnson. “Sometimes I guess it just takes us awhile to get going.”

But the Eagles did get going in the championship match of the Sandhills Conference tournament on their home court, defeating Mullen 25-15, 25-14, 22-25, 25-16.

After two straight years as runner-up, Johnson said taking the title was gratifying.

“It’s nice to finally get out of second,” she said.

The Eagles didn’t rush into anything, though.

They fell behind 8-2 in the first set before four consecutive service aces by senior Megan Polt put them back in the game.

“We’ve got a good serve receive rotation to start with but there are only two hitters in the front row with it,” Johnson said. “I’ve been studying to see if that has anything to do with why we start off so slow.”

Maybe, she said, level of competition in the past few weeks has left the Eagles sluggish until aggression becomes necessary.

The Eagles carried the momentum of the first set into the second and looked strong for the three-set victory but a lineup change by Mullen in the third set may have thrown them off.

“They changed their rotation a little and we didn’t handle it well,” Johnson said.

After falling in the third, Johnson said she told her team she would adjust their rotation to match Mullen’s if they wanted.

“I usually try to give them the reins,” she said. “They know what’s going wrong and they usually know how to fix it.”

The girls chose not to shift the rotation and took control early in the fourth set.

“These girls are very smart,” Johnson said. “They usually figure things out on their own, I just lay it out there for them.”

With the championship win over Mullen and an SHC semi-final victory over Hyannis, the Eagles move to 21-2 on the year with a No. 5 state ranking and only one regular-season match remaining.

Brady travels to Hitchcock County Saturday to face the 22-1 Falcons who are rated No. 6 in Class D-1.

Then the Eagles will begin a loaded sub-district on Monday.

“This week will tell a lot about out maturity,” Johnson said. “I think our sub-district is one of the most difficult in D-2. Hopefully the hard games leading up to it will help us in the long run.”

The match at Hitchcock County begins at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The pairings for the D2-9 sub-district will be released Thursday. Teams include Anselmo-Merna (5-19), Bertrand (25-1), Brady (21-2), Eustis-Farnam (11-13) and Loomis (15-8).