What a week for Natchitoches Central Volleyball! Last Tuesday, Sept. 20, the Lady Chiefs hosted the Alexandria Trojans for a district showdown. The Trojans were no match for Central volleyball and fell in three short sets, with set scores of 25-10, 25-11 and 25-15.
Although it was an easy win for the Chiefs, it was also an opportunity to fine-tune their defense for the following match versus Episcopal School of Acadiana. After losing to ESA last season, the Chiefs were hungry for revenge against the Lafayette team. Wednesday, Sept. 21, NCHS traveled to ESA and prepared for what they knew would be a challenging match. The first set was an explosion from Natchitoches Central. Even when rallies were long, hitters like middle blocker Makira Carpenter and outside Chloe Coutee still managed to find ways to put the ball down. Chiefs left no crumbs with a set score of 25-15.
The ESA Falcons did not take this loss lightly and came back fighting in the second set. The Chiefs dug themselves a 7-point hole, struggling to cut back on serving and serve receive errors. After a time-out, the Chiefs came back fighting, managing to even the score.
In the final 5 points, the Chiefs struggled to put the ball down and fell 25-22, a close set. Disappointed and astounded by this loss, the Chiefs turned glum faces to the third set. A testament to the role attitude plays in performance, the Chiefs fell quickly with a set score of 25-6.
Concerning the third set, sophomore and Defensive Specialist Campbell Morrow says, “I think we were disappointed in ourselves, and we were absolutely determined to win the fourth set, whatever it took.” The Chiefs did just that, fighting tooth and nail, point by point, for their win of 26-24. Stat leaders include outside hitter Chloe Coutee with 13 kills. Coutee also led in aces with six total. Middle Blocker Lora Cole led the team in blocks with 8 solo and 3 assisted. Leading the defense, outside hitter Bailey Newlee came in with 14 digs.
After taking the fourth set, the match was tied 2-2 and a fifth set was in order, the first of the season for the Chiefs. With only 15 points the Chiefs knew there would be little room for errors. The air was tense as the fifth set began, spectators and coaches alike held their breath with every serve and hit. As the teams rallied back and forth, the Chiefs struggled to maintain a lead. Several pivotal serving and hitting errors led to the Chiefs narrowly ceding the set. With a set score of 15-12 and a match score of 3-2, the Chiefs took their third loss of the season.
The very next day, the Lady Chiefs hosted Acadiana High School. Central Volleyball was all business, as they bared down to maintain their “Top 10” status. The teams appeared evenly matched during the first set, which finished 25-21. The Acadiana Rams became increasingly demoralized as their defense struggled against the Chief’s quick offense. The second set ended 25-18, and the third ended 25-14.
After this clean sweep, Natchitoches Central volleyball was ready to face possibly the most highly anticipated game of the season on Tuesday, Sept. 26, versus Ruston High School. The Chiefs and Bearcats have a long-standing rivalry, dating back to 2019. The Chiefs took down Ruston during the 2020 season but took a stinging loss to them last year. Natchitoches Central anticipates the District Champion title this season, and Ruston is the only real competition standing in their way. Stay tuned for how this crucial match plays out. In the meantime, Natchitoches Central volleyball ranks #8 for division 1 Louisiana high school volleyball.