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Dogs notch three successive sets against Cats |

JASPER — With the first set in hand and a 5-0 lead the following set, the Jasper volleyball squad landed the initial jabs with New Albany.

However, the Bulldogs had the final say by carving up three sets in a row for a 3-1 win over the Wildcats (9-5) on Saturday in non-conference action.

“I felt like our energy, and this has been something that has happened in previous games before, we come out on fire in our first game and we do well,” Jasper coach Jennifer Hopf said. “Then, in our second and third, we kind of sit back a little bit. For whatever reason, it’s been a little bit of the history of our teams.

“As a coaching staff, we have to sit back and think, ‘What can we do better to keep them engaged longer,'” she continued. “We talk about communication, discipline, energy and those things they can control and how big of a difference those things make.”

The Wildcats’ 25-19 win was followed by losses of 22-25, 19-25 and 21-25.

Sophomore outside hitter Carlee Rogers was a lynchpin to the initial headway Jasper gained. She finished with a team-best 19 kills and found teammates for 11 assists, which was second most for Jasper.

“In the first set, our middles did a great job of attacking and scoring,” Hopf said. “And then (New Albany) made a few adjustments, when that happens, we have to have some other people step up. I thought Carlee did a great job of stepping up and filling another role of an attacker where they have to continue to watch them.”

Jasper’s early thrust resulted in three more five-point leads in the second set after Rogers’ kill for a late 17-12 margin.

It wasn’t enough, as the Bulldogs rattled off seven straight points to push in front 19-17. This arises ultimately tilted the complexion of the match.

New Albany senior Alexis Caldwell, who secured back-to-back kills to knot the match, registered one more from the left as the Bulldogs led 21-19.

The Wildcats forced one more tie after a mishandle by New Albany and sophomore setter Olivia Young’s assist to Rogers as she found the back corner from a tight angle.

Young led the team in dimes with 27 and added team-highs of 21 digs and four aces.

The Bulldogs took the next two points to lead the rest of the way en route to a 25-22 victory to deadlock the match.

The Cats misfired on their final two attacks, one landed wide on a cross-court hit and the second sailed long.

They were knotted with the Bulldogs at 8-8 in the third set. Jasper was unable to garner an advantage and trailed 14-13 but couldn’t inch closer in the frame.

The Bulldogs went ahead 2-1 in the match with execution down the stretch as they secured five of the final six points — the final four kills were spread across four Bulldogs.

The Cats fell into an 8-2 hole at the outset of the fourth set.

The deficit ballooned to 19-7 when Jasper rallied off nine straight points to get back into it.

Jasper had three aces — two from Young — three blocks and the Bulldogs had an attacking error and a mishandle in the sequence.

The Cats cut it to two twice the rest of the way in a 25-21 defeat.

At the net, senior Bailey Lents and junior Ava Englert helped the Cats gain traction with blocks and hard-driven hits on attacks. Englert led Jasper with five blocks and Lents struck eight kills.

“I thought our middles battled well and they’ve been probably our most consistent…probably our middles and Carlee have been our most consistent hitters, so far this season,” Hopf said. “I’m pleased with what they are doing for us, and of course, we want to get a few more people in that mix.”

This includes sophomore outside hitter Chloe Edwards, whom Hopf said needs to see more of the ball to push the needle. The next time the Cats take the court is Monday at home against Providence.

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