MT. CARMEL, ILL. – After seeing yellow, Carmi turned red in the third game of its season-opening volleyball match at Mt. Carmel on Monday night. The Bulldogs trailed 12-6 in the rubber game when the bench received a yellow card. That sparked a dramatic turnaround, as Carmi outscored the hosts, 19-8 from there, to take the game and match.
“Somebody on our bench got a little loud, and we got a yellow card,” said Carmi coach Penny Burton-Gunter. “The girls were just ready to fire back after that. They started playing smarter instead of harder, and I think that made the difference.”
The subsequent 25-20 victory completed a two-game swing in the match that opened in Mt. Carmel’s favor. The Lady Aces took the first game, 25-17, after jumping to a 7-1 lead. That identical lead in the second game didn’t hold up though, as Carmi (1-0) surged at the close for a 25-23 win to even the match at one-game apiece.
Even though Carmi’s varsity victory spoiled a would-be Mt. Carmel sweep on opening night (the Lady Aces had already taken the freshman and JV matches in straight sets), fourth-year coach Kelsey Beckerman was upbeat about what she had seen from her young team. Though returning all six starters from last year, Mt. Carmel has just one senior on the roster.
“We were able to get them over the summer, but we’ve improved since then,” Beckerman said. “I told them in the locker room that my job was easy tonight. I just stood on the sidelines and cheered them on. For the most part, they were able to work out kinks on their own, and communicate well.”
For Mt. Carmel (0-1), the loss will serve as a learning experience.
“We’re still super young,” Beckerman said. “The more we play the more we’ll be able to figure these things out on our own. I was really proud of them.”
Burton-Gunter said from what she took from the match, “I’m going to move some people around that should not be in specific spots and should move to a different spot. But overall, we were slower tonight than we’ve been practicing. Hopefully, we’ll come out stronger (on Tuesday) against Edwards County at home.”
The L.A.s play at Lawrenceville on Tuesday before returning home to play perennial power Edwards County on Thursday.
ACES ASIDES... The match was the first on the newly-painted floor at the Hilltop, the adopted name of the 85-year-old Mt. Carmel High School gymnasium on the bluff overlooking the Wabash River. "The Hilltop, Home of the Aces" is now emblazoned on each side of the center line. The new design was completed over the summer... Carmi coach Penny Burton-Gunter began her 24th year in coaching on Monday night, the last seven as head coach of the Bulldogs after serving in the JV ranks with Jason Craig. She was first head coach at Enfield...