Seeking their first Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference win of a young 2019 season, the Batesville Lady Bulldogs welcomed neighboring Franklin County for a varsity volleyball tilt Tuesday, Aug. 27.

Despite the Lady Wildcats getting off to a 3-0 lead in the opening set, the home team was more than ready for the challenge and closed out the ‘Cats in straight sets, 25-15, 25-23 and 25-17.

The visitors surged late in set number two after trailing by as many as eight points, bringing the score to 24-23 and getting the attention of head coach Kateri Paul, who signaled timeout. Audrey Reister’s serve landed just outside the box to give BHS a 2-0 match lead.

“We actually started a new lineup in that set,” the Batesville mentor remarked. “I wanted our freshman Cayman Werner setting instead of (senior Abigail Westerfeld), trying to get her some reps.

“That took a little bit to get used to but they caught on a little better that third set.”

In the next set, the hosts built a lead early but an unforced error saw FC tie things at eight. The Wildcats took advantage of a trio of Bulldog errors to go up 13-10, leading to Paul stopping the action.

The sideline conference worked as the Dogs quickly tied the set, eventually going on a 15-4 run to complete the evening’s sweep.

“Our setting was there all night,” said Paul. “I think we had a few more free balls that helped us set up our offense. You can run some more plays that way.”

After the sluggish start, Werner’s kill put BHS on the board and sophomore Regina Gerstbauer served to an 8-3 lead. FC ran off four straight, but kills by juniors Katie Bedel and Kylie Laker and senior Macy Prickel had Cats’ coach Jill Mergenthal calling time, down 13-8.

“Katie’s swinging the ball really hard right now,” said her coach. “A few times tonight, she was just a beast on the front line.”

Bedel would finish with a team-best 11 kills, followed by Werner with 9, Prickel 8 and Laker 6.

A Laker kill and solo block by Prickel made it 16-9 and the guests would get no closer than 5 points the rest of the way. At set point, freshman libero Laney Walsman landed an ace.

The Bulldogs had five girls go 100 percent in serve attempts: Westerfeld (15 w. 3 aces), Gerstbauer (12 & 6), Walsman (9), junior Nikki Fox (7) and Bedel (3). Laker added 4 aces.

“I thought Abby served really well tonight and, for her first time taking charge on the court, Cayman did a nice job,” said Paul, giving a couple shout-outs.

Laker was the premier setter with 21 assists, as Werner came up with 9 and Westerfeld 8. Defensively, Walsman collected 8 digs, Gerstbauer 7 and Laker 5. Prickel received 11 serves.

BHS (4-2, 1-1) faced perennial conference power East Central Thursday (results not available at press time) and hosts league foe Connersville Saturday morning, 10 a.m.

It makes for the busiest week of the Bulldogs’ fall campaign.

“A tough week like that doesn’t really give you any time to practice,” added Paul. “Of course we’ll practice, but as far as going hard, it’s a bit tougher because you don’t want dead legs for the next night. We’ll come in and work through some things and be ready.”

Vs. Shelbyville (Aug. 24)

Batesville fell for the first time this season, losing in four sets Saturday to visiting Shelbyville.

The Golden Bears took sets 2-4 after losing the opening set 25-18. Successive scores were 25-14, 26-24 and 25-18.

“We were without starting middle hitter Kerigan Haskamp, who went down Friday with an ankle injury,” Paul explained. “We started out strong with the new lineup but Shelbyville quickly adjusted.”

Gerstbauer was 21-of-22 in serve attempts and collected 3 aces.

Prickel and Werner led the team at the net. Prickel had 8 kills while Werner led in kill percentage.

At Greensburg (Aug. 26)

The Bulldogs suffered another loss Monday evening at Greensburg in the team’s EIAC opener. The host and defending sectional champion Pirates won 25-10, 25-20, 23-25, 25-11.

“The girls didn’t come out strong, but gradually gained some momentum,” said Paul. “It was not enough against Greensburg’s blocking and strong attacks.”

Leading servers were Bedel and Walsman. Werner paced the offensive attack while Prickel and Gerstbauer shored up the defense.

Will Fehlinger can be contacted at sports@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 220112