The Oxford Lady Chargers only had two practices after having to go into a 10-day quarantine during the start of August. You wouldn’t know that if you saw the match Thursday night in the OHS Gym.
Oxford defeated the Lewisburg Lady Patriots 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-21) for their first win over Lewisburg since defeating them to win the state championship in 2016 and snaps a six match losing streak to the Lady Patriots.
Oxford (1-0 overall) returned everyone back from last season as last year’s team did not have a senior, so while most other teams would’ve had chemistry issues coming out of quarantine for most of their pre-season practice, second year coach Ashley Martin was proud on the response from her team after hardly having any practice time so far since practices were officially underway for the MHSAA July 26.
“Our first practice with our team in two weeks was (Wednesday),” Martin said. “I was really proud to how we came out and responded. We don’t even have our whole team back because some of our players are still in quarantine. I was very proud to how we came out after one practice. We had a couple of young people out there that had to step up and play a big and executing our game plan.”
Much of the game plan for Oxford was getting Lewisburg (3-2) out of system, that is putting the attacking ball in an area where there isn’t an easy pass to the setter, an easy set for a hitter who then attempts to put away the ball with a hard hit to the floor. Lewisburg’s main attacking hitters combined for just 16 kills for the three sets in the match.
“One of our big things and something we are really working on is ‘what can we do to get the team out of system?’” Martin said. “Our gameplan was get (Lewisburg) out of system constantly. If they’re out of system, they’re not able to use who they want to for (a counter-)attack. I felt like we really stuck together for our game plan.”
Among other noticeable changes was Ainsley Tacke playing all six positions on the floor. Previously Tacke only played on the front row and then exiting the game when her spot in the rotation went to the back row. Tacke started playing all six positions out of necessity last season when several players last year were in quarantine and the active roster got really small. Tacke is now starting to play attacking balls in the back row, notching three of her 16 kills in the match from the back row.
“She’s working really really hard on becoming a six-rotation right side,” Martin said of Tacke. “I feel like she’s really developing in that role a lot. We worked on that some towards the end of the season last year. We really were working on that during the offseason and during the summer on her six-rotation position.”
In addition to her match-high 16 kills, Tacke also added five digs in the match. Bree Lyons led Oxford’s defense with a team-high 14 digs while Michael Ann East added another eight digs. Reagan Meadows led Lewisburg with seven kills. Jayda Bradley and Lana Ferrell added six and three kills respectively for the Lady Patriots. Defensively Lewisburg was lead by Sadie Bridgforth with a match-high 15 digs. She was complemented with the 12 digs from Kaley Rikard and 11 digs from Hailey Stephens.