Bulldogs Outlast IPS in Opener

Lady Panthers Battle BASIS-Scottsdale in Four Tough Games

By Daniel Dullum

Imagine Prep-Superstition and BASIS-Scottsdale gave fans an entertaining two hours of season-opening high school volleyball on Aug. 23 at Panther Arena, with four down-to-the-wire games – two decided in overtime.

In the end, the visiting Bulldogs prevailed 28-30, 25-23, 25-20, 28-26, spoiling the head coaching debut of Charlyne Long, who took over the Imagine Prep program this season.

“I’m really proud,” Long said. “It was a really great first game, and we started in a great place. This was a great building block. We just build from here.”

Imagine Prep (0-1) jumped to an 11-4 lead in game one, but BASIS tied the game at 22-22, 23-23 and 25-25. Jayla Noble’s service ace broke a 28-28 deadlock and on the fifth game point, a kill by Georgia Kostur gave IPS the win.

The Lady Panthers again took an early lead in game two, thanks to a six-point serving run for Miranda Hess which included three aces. Again, like game one, the Bulldogs chipped away at Prep’s lead and tied the game on an Ella Grosel ace at 19-19. The Lady Panthers took a 23-22 lead before BASIS’s Avery King closed out game two with three consecutive service aces.

BASIS (1-0) built a 10-4 lead in game three before Hess hit three straight aces to pull the Lady Panthers to a 15-14 advantage. The Bulldogs tied the game at 15 and 16 before surging ahead to stay at 18-17, eventually winning on Lekha Kuhalingam’s game point kill.

Long said Prep felt confident going into game four to even the match.

“My girls are pretty scrappy and work at digging everything up,” Long said. “They fought. All the games went over 25 and you don’t see that very often.”

Hess led off game four with an ace, but Prep found itself trailing 8-4 before tying the game at 9-9 and surging ahead 12-9 on a pair of aces by Jayla Noble. A Hess ace put the Lady Panthers up 16-11 before BASIS fought back to tie the fourth game at 16 and taking a 17-16 lead.

From there, the teams battled back-and-forth. Prep broke the first match point at 24-23 on a Natasia Coyle kill, Alyssa Noble’s ace put the Lady Panthers up 25-24, but a return error retied the game at 25. Trailing 26-25, a Hess kill broke the third match point, but BASIS prevailed on a IPS service error and a hitting error on the fourth match point.

“I work on serving a lot,” Hess said. “I didn’t want to miss that serve (on match point). I knew I had to get it over.”

“I’m really proud of us because we tried our hardest,” the Lady Panthers’ Jayla Noble said. “Most games don’t go to 30 points, and even though we lost, I’m really proud of us. It’s OK. It’s our first game and so proud of everybody.”

Long said, “I saw a huge jump from practice to here. You could tell the girls wanted to play, they love to play. I think the crowd gave them the extra oomph to do better than they thought they could do. I was really impressed.

“I’m super confident for the rest of our season. Now we know what we need to tweak, we got the first game jitters out, I think we’ll do great from here on.”

Photo above: The 2018 Imagine Prep-Superstition volleyball team. Front row (L-R): Riza Kremer, Karma Masbruch, Jayla Noble, Alyssa Noble, Hailey Castine, Jasmine Gebhart. Back row: Isbell Snow, Georgia Kostur, Alayna Rhone, Dennisse Enriquez, Natasia Coyle, Miranda Hess, Samantha Cannon, Coach Charlyne Long. (Photo by Daniel Dullum)

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