County volleyball rivalry: Edgewood takes a swing at Bloomington South

·6 min read

ELLETTSVILLE — After keeping their cool for two hours, they had every right to cut loose in celebration just four days into a long season.

Gracie Farmer, who had scored the 23rd and 24th points of the fourth set for Edgewood, scored the 25th as well. When the ball ricocheted off the defender and backwards to the floor, she flopped to the ground as well, arms extended in triumph.

Then she got up and joined the bouncing, group hug at the 10-foot line. It had been a long time coming, since 2011 in fact, as Edgewood claimed a 23-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-22 volleyball win over Bloomington South, snapping a 10-match losing streak to their county rivals.

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"Every single year, we've come closer and closer to beating them," Edgewood setter Adia May said. "And this year was the year to beat them. Being a senior and all, that's the best win that I have probably had in my whole career."

Edgewood is 4-0 and gaining some real confidence it can accomplish big things this season.

"I'm going to celebrate this win a lot," Edgewood coach Beth May said. "Because it's been a while. And I've never beat South so I am very proud of this win.

"But I need the girls to stay hungry. We have other goals, other things that we need to think about."

New coach, new lineup for South

For South, it was the debut for new head coach Melissa Smith and her team went in without one of its top players in senior Caitlin Heim.

The Panthers are certainly still tinkering with the lineup as players and coaches get familiar with each other and consistency was an issue all night for a team that was unable to keep its serve receive on target.

"I think I saw a lot of first-time jitters," Smith said. "We have Caitlin out so we're having to work some new people in and that takes a little bit of time.

"What I did see is a team that kept working, kept trying to get it to together even though things were not going their way. We saw a a lot of unforced errors that will come with inexperience. I saw a lot of fight so I'm hopeful."

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South had to play from behind much of the night and while it was able to rally, it couldn't get over the hump, leading to the three losses by a just 10 points.

"Our passing broke down," Smith said. "We were not serving as tough, when they're in system they're going to be tough to beat. They're going to have an amazing year."

Tough to crack

Edgewood showed plenty of moxie even after letting the first set get away at 21-all. It wasn't about to be the same 'ol, same 'ol, losing steam, losing confidence and letting the Panthers bully them after the opening win.

Instead, Edgewood turned a 12-12 tie into a 22-16 lead in Set 2 and hung on to get even. And this time, the Mustangs wanted more and took charge of Set 3 early, then twice held off the Panthers when they got within one.

"When we ended up losing (the opening set) we were not defeated," Beth May said. "They were still ready to compete. I think our team does really well through adversity. It's what we do best. They thrive in chaos a little bit."

Set 4 tested their resilience again. Tied at 11, Edgewood scored five straight then gave up four straight and the score yoyoed back and forth. A kill by Cadence Ast and a passing error tied the set at 21, but a serve into the net by the Panthers opened the door for the Mustangs and Farmer finished it off.

"We were just working as a team better than we have before," Adia May said. "The energy was great. I've never seen this group of girls perform the way that we did tonight."

Edgewood newcomers

Edgewood got a big lift from senior Kendall Ash and freshman Olivia Edgeman.

Yes, feeding the ball to 6-2 Kaiden Harrington, who finished with 13 kills, is always a good idea, but not always the best since the block is certainly aimed at her.

Farmer added nine kills, three aces and five blocks as the Mustangs held the advantage in the middle, while at the pins, Edgeman had nine kills and two aces and Ash had six kills to go with eight digs.

"Kendall had a phenomenal game," Beth May said. "She and Olivia. Everyone is expecting Kaiden to get that ball and so we're expecting the block on here, so when we can get the ball somewhere else, we have other options. We're not a one-man band."

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Edgewood's big win in Set 2 also came with backup setter sophomore Ellianna Emmons taking over to give May a breather. Emmons had 10 assists and May came back and finished out the match, collecting 25 assists.

"Ellie did a fantastic job and everyone responded well to that," Beth May said.

Double duty for Mitchell

South used a pair of setters as it did last year with Paige Washington and London Mitchell. But Smith left Mitchell on the floor when Washington came in to get her team another good arm on offense.

"No. 1, I need her on the floor all the time, right?" Smith said. "I would love to find a way to get Paige on the floor the whole time, too, so we'll play around with things there. But London is a strong right-side hitter. She brings the right energy and the right attitude."

Mitchell finished with 21 assists, five kills and three aces, while Washington had 11 assists.

Ast also turned into one of the go-to hitters on the night, collecting 13 kills and junior Ana Crowley added eight kills in her varsity debut. Raine Rolen had five kills, three blocks and three aces out of the middle and Riley Walker had a strong night at libero and from the service line.

"It took (Ast) a second to get warmed up," Smith said. "But consistent and steady, it's always good to have a player you can count on to go to in those situations."

The Panthers will keep working on their options.

"You could tell tonight we had to try three different things," Smith said. "It's a different lineup than we've even tried at the scrimmage. We're just seeing whose going to jell and work well together. Hopefully we'll get it honed in over the next couple weeks."

Contact Jim Gordillo at and follow on Twitter @jimgordillo.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: County volleyball rivalry: Edgewood takes a swing at Bloomington South