SPRINGFIELD -- Some days are just easier than others. It sure felt that way for Karlee Wilkerson on Tuesday after the Springfield Lady Bulldogs dominated Pine, 3-0.
“You kind of take these as a sort of a practice game,” Wilkerson said.
“This was our chance to experiment a little bit. In a sense, it was OK to make mistakes because we were working on new plays throughout the game.”
A strong offensive performance by Springfield’s front line, coupled by poor offensive output from the Lady Raiders (1-4) put the Lady Bulldogs on the right side of a 25-9 first set, highlighted by Wilkerson and Rachel Wheat’s strong play near the net.
Pine’s offense, aided by a few service miscues by Springfield (11-1), came to life briefly in the second set before they fell 25-14. Easy wins in the first two sets prompted Lady Bulldogs’ coach Miranda Lobell to bring in the reserves, including Emma Clark, LeAnn Threeton and Kaitlyn Norman to finish off the third set, 25-10.
Rachel Wheat and Tabby Lobell flanked Wilkerson on the front line, and made quick work of any volley that came across the net defensively. Despite a lack of aggressive attacks by the Lady Raiders, Madison Watson and Abbi James kept themselves busy on the offensive side, particularly from the back line.
Springfield suffered their first loss on Saturday to Ponchatoula during the District 7 Tournament. Despite leaving a bad taste in the mouths of her squad, Wilkerson and Co. battled back to win five of the six matches they played in the tournament, including a rematch with Ponchatoula. The loss didn’t faze a team that has bonded strongly together over the last 24 months.
“We were all friends before playing together,” Wheat said. “After two years of playing together, we’ve just kind of grown on each other even more.”
Springfield’s 2016 season ended abruptly with a playoff loss to eventual Division III state champion Teurlings Catholic. The Lady Bulldogs have looked every bit the part of a state champion contender this year, a goal the team had set for themselves before the season started.
After losing both Sarah Simeon and Skylar Brandon to injuries before the season started, the loss was only a small hurdle to an otherwise sensational year for the Springfield.
The Lady Bulldogs return to action at Salmen on Thursday, at 4 pm.