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BREMEN—Playing without your head coach can be harder than people think, just ask the New Orleans Saints who are now 2-5 without Sean Peyton.
Add the Adams Central volleyball team to that list as they played Saturday's semi-state at Bremen High School without their first-year front woman Ashley Beard in a four-set loss to #8 Southwood 25-13, 24-26, 25-13, 25-20.
"It was different," senior Bess Fiechter noted afterwards. "It was just a different atmosphere. I don't know if it got in our heads a little but Jamie did a good job filling in for us."
Assistant coach Jamie Falkenstern did all she could to rally the troops but with Beard away attending the wedding of her sister (an event that should and did take precedence), the Jets just looked lost for the first set and a half.
"Our serve receive and defense broke down," explained Falkenstern. "I don't know if Ashley not being here played a huge part but throughout the year once we've been down a game or two it has been a challenge for us to come back mentally."
Adams Central, winner of the school's fourth regional title in history, did not play with the swagger that got them that far against Bishop Luers, Bluffton, and then Westview at home. When Southwood took the opening set with ease it was the first time all playoffs that the Lady Jets had dropped a set.
"We knew we were the under dog but we came alive coming into sectionals and we entered regional with our heads high. We just didn't have it today," explained Fiechter.
The first ball served by the Warriors resulted in an errant shot into the sidelines. Then a Southwood block at the net set the tone further as the Jets' could not seem to find ways around the tall Warrior front-line.
The score was 4-1 when AC finally scored but things got worse before they got better. The normally stellar Jet defense stalled for much of the first set finding themselves down 16-7 after an 8-2 run by Southwood put them in a hole.
After the big deficit, AC played even with the Warriors for the most part as Southwood would outscore them 9-6 the rest of the set for a lopsided 25-13 start.
The mental mistakes trickled into the second set for Adams Central despite freshman Jenni Baumer starting the frame with an ace and the Jets' first lead at 1-0. Southwood would score the next three points in answer. The Jets would find their legs after tying the score at 3-3 making a 7-1 run to lead 8-4.
At 11-11, the match began to look as it should have with both teams trading blows. Whitney Peterson stroked a laser beam kill for the Jets to put them up 12-11 but Southwood's heavy-hitter Lexi Brickner layed one down into the Jets' front line on the next play to nod the score back up at 12-12.