Setting pace: Lady Celts beat Lakeridge Pacers in four sets

The Lady Celts protected their home court on Tuesday when the Lakeridge Pacers came to McNary in a match that included a 62-point second set.

That second set was the only one the Lady Celts dropped in the 3-1 (25-14, 30-32, 25-18, 25-18) win to improve to 2-0 in the early season. 

“I was extremely proud of them for keeping it together,” head coach Crystal Ayres said. “We learned a lot tonight and Lakeridge came through with some of their outside hitters, had some really great shots. So I thought we learned a lot from that second set.”

And that learning will be key for a Lady Celts team that lost nine of 14 from 2022’s roster. That means new opportunities for some new faces, but also maybe some growing pains early in the season.

At one point in the second set Lakeridge led by six points, the largest lead they held in a set on Tuesday. The lack of familiarity between each other due to the roster turnover could have attributed to much of that, as a number of balls hit the ground that you might not expect to see later in the season. 

But despite that, Ayres seemed confident that it is just an early season hiccup.

“We have goals to make early decisions and so committing and going for early decisions is going to be a big difference from what they saw tonight to growing,” Ayres said. 

And the let down of that second set didn’t sink McNary’s spirits.

To start the third set, the Lady Celts looked determined. Senior Taylor Detrant opened the set servicing, and had a look of determination and no-nonsense on her face. 

“A long game like that can take the wind out of sails also,” Ayres said. “That’s where your determination and a little grit comes into play.”

They jumped out early to a 10-3 lead before the Pacers stormed back, taking an 11-10 lead.

And as it looked like a similar shift from the second set was coming in the third, McNary was able to quell Lakeridge’s momentum.

Ayres specifically pointed to how they played while out of system as a key to the third set success.

“When our setter wasn’t able to get to the ball, we still had opportunities to attack and make good decisions about where to place the ball and that was an area where I thought they thrived in order to slow Lakeridge down,” Ayres said. 

Next, the Lady Celts will host North Salem on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.