The Cougars as a whole were coordinated and communicated well, setting up for good strikes and repositioning quickly for defense.

by: CORY MIMMS - Kennedy Nofziger jumps for the strike, which was just set up for her by Courtney McGrath. In the backcourt, libero Anicca Monaghan readys for the return. The Cougars lost to the Royals on Thursday, Aug. 29. in their first game of the season. Though Portland Christian had more height on their side of the net, that didn’t stop Country Christian from fighting and keeping their fundamentals on point.

The Cougars took an early 4-0 lead in the first set, but the Royals snapped right back with two points of their own, taking the score to 4-2.

The Cougars nabbed seven more points in the time the Royals got two more, leaving the score 11-4 when the first timeout was called.

Miranda Halverson and Anicca Monaghan lead the way for them.

It was 18-5 after the second timeout. The Cougars were fundamentally playing better than the Royals. They attacked hard, returned fast balls and dug in.

The Royals were sloppy, bumping into each other, missing easy returns and dropping balls.

But that changed in the second set. The Cougars came out clean but not as aggressive, and the Royals played ten times better than they did in the first set. Their defense blocked the net high and their offense was making perfect passes and slamming balls down.

The set remained tied for the first three points, then the Royals took the lead.

The Royals defense continued to keep their hands above the net and collect points off Cougar mistakes.

The Cougars remained behind by half until a Royals’ error bumped the score to 9-16.

Country Christian closed the gap “one point at a time,” as Coach Janin McGrath said from the sideline.

By the second timeout, there was a mere four-point spread, 13-17.

The ladies got back on the court and quickly secured three more points. But the Royals responded aggressively and took the second set 16-25.

After that, the Cougars continued to play well, but couldn’t get another win. In the third set, the Royals got an early lead. However, the Cougars bounced back to a 6-6 tie.

The game remained tight, within a point of tie, for several rallies, until the Cougars got up 13-11.

The Royals didn’t let them keep the two-point lead though. The game tied again at 18-18 and at 20-20. However, before the next timeout, the Royals managed to get up by three.

Back on the court after the timeout, the Royals played a little sloppy and the Cougars kept at them, securing a 23-23 tie.

Kennedy Nofziger took the serve, and a bad set by the Royals gave the point to the Cougars. At 24-23, it looked like the Cougars might grab a second win, but a bit of bad defense at the net and an unreturned spike left the game 24-26.

At 2-1, Royals favor, the fourth set began with both sides playing hard, but both also making mistakes.

The score remained within one point of tie until the Royals grabbed a 3-5 lead and continued snatching points until the first timeout, leaving the court at 3-8.

The game continued at the same pace, with the Cougars getting three more points and the Royals taking eight, opening the spread to 6-16.

Audrey Barden got the next point with a clean spike. The Royals kept returning after that though, pushing an 11-point spread before the next timeout.

The Cougars rallied for a comeback, securing six points in the time the Royals got one. Country Christian couldn’t close the gap in time, though, and in the end the scoreboard read 19-25.

The Cougars are a young team, mostly sophomores and juniors, but they played with a lot of knowledge and reaction, making good passes and precise attacks.

Monaghan, who saw little floor time last year, dug into the backcourt as libero and made multiple hards saves. The team as a whole was coordinated and communicated well, setting up for good strikes and repositioning quickly for defense.

Despite the loss, McGrath was excited with how well they did. Portland Christian cleaned up their defense and offense a lot in games two, three and four,” she said. “Now we know what we have to work on.”

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