The comeback was nearly complete.
Camdenton hosted rival Lebanon on the volleyball court Thursday night in an Ozark Conference showdown and lost to the visiting Yellowjackets in a three-set battle. Lebanon took the first set 25-14 and led by as many as eight points in set No. 2 before the Lakers stormed back to win it 26-24. In the third and final set, Camdenton trailed by as many as six and regained the lead before Lebanon ended it 25-21.
"In game three we made that run back at them, tied it up and it almost feels like you take three steps forward and take four steps back," Camdenton coach Austin Walker said of the changing momentum. "We were telling them where their holes were, trying to exploit it and we just did not get the job done. Sometimes you play hard, but you also want to win.”
It was all Lebanon to start off the night as the Yellowjackets took the lead early and never gave it up. Camdenton tied the game at three different points, but the visitors squashed any gaining momentum with an 8-1 run to end it.
Camdenton found itself trailing once again in the second set with the largest deficit being 15-8. However, the Lakers continued to chip away at the lead and managed to tie it back up at 19 with an 11-4 run. Lebanon nearly shut the door with a 23-21 advantage, but Camdenton refused to go away and rallied once again with a 5-1 run to close it out.
"The intensity that we played with and the effort that we played is how we should play every game," Walker pointed out. "Not just in front of our home crowd when we have people cheering for us. That has to be the tempo we step on the court with every game.”
The set to decide it would be a battle to the end with neither side leading by more than six. Trailing 19-13, the serving of Camdenton senior Sara McDuffey allowed the Lakers to rattle off seven unanswered points to take back the lead at 20-19. Unfortunately for the home team, the visitors found a way to respond and secure the win.
"We did get some good momentum coming in there and had it going into game three. We got down quick, battled back and it just took that shift when the ball hit the court between two people looking at each other," Walker said of the turning point. "Then, they (Lebanon) had the ball in their court so they did a great job of staying focused and everything. We want to put a full game together and just be able to exploit somebody’s weaknesses.”
Camdenton senior Natalie Basham led the Laker attack with nine kills, senior Kylie Meier added six and senior Abbie Miller put up all 24 of the team's assists. Junior Lizzie Miller also did her part as she finished the night with two service aces. On the defensive end, Meier was a force at the net with four blocks, senior Madison VanderPloeg had a team-high 19 digs, Basham finished with 17 digs and both Abbie and senior Grace Wormek put up eight digs each respectively.
"Lizzie Miller came in tonight and served aggressive, played great defense and did exactly what we needed her to do. Hats off to her for stepping in and (sophomore) Shelby Kurtz to go back there and serve that game point," Walker stated. "I thought our block came alive there pretty late in the game and I wish we would have had it all the game."
It may have been a tough night for Camdenton on the scoreboard, but Walker is confident in this group. The coach said the Lakers just simply have to put it all together going forward.
"They fight and we have lost a lot of games in three (sets) this year, which is the frustrating part," Walker stated. "I firmly believe though that if we have to go compete, I would compete with this team any day. We just have to do our jobs day in and day out and everybody has got to be on the same page.”
Camdenton (9-17-3) will look to be on the same page Tuesday night when the Lakers visit Parkview for another conference battle. First serves are scheduled for 4:30 p.m.