NZ battles top district foes

Posted 10/13/20

The North Zulch volleyball team dropped a pair of matchups to top-ranked 2A district opponents Iola Oct. 6 and Leon Friday at NZHS. The Lady Bulldogs are a 1A team competing in a predominately 2A district, meaning they will qualify for the postseason regardless of their final league standing.

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NZ battles top district foes

Posted

The North Zulch volleyball team dropped a pair of matchups to top-ranked 2A district opponents Iola Oct. 6 and Leon Friday at NZHS. The Lady Bulldogs are a 1A team competing in a predominately 2A district, meaning they will qualify for the postseason regardless of their final league standing.

“I am proud of the way we played,” said North Zulch head coach Melissa Padgett. “We made some big strides towards where we want to peak at. We were talking about our peak and the highest we can go. We want to peak in November. (Leon and Iola) are good measuring sticks of where we are and where we can be.”

North Zulch dropped a road matchup to Iola in straight sets Oct. 6 by scores of 7-25, 21-25 and 9-25. It was their second time losing to Iola this season (Sept. 11).

They dropped their second matchup of the season to Leon Friday by scores of 12-25, 24-26 and 21-25. The Lady Bulldogs held sizable leads in the latter sets.

“In that really close set (against Iola) and the two close sets (against Leon), we didn't lose our heads, but we made some mistakes that Leon and Iola are not going to make in a close game,” said Padgett. “We don’t have the firepower they do at the net. Their hitters are a lot bigger. Defensively, any of my kids can hang with their kids.”

The Lady Bulldogs entered Tuesday’s matchup against Calvert with a 4-5 district record, but have their attention set deep in the 1A playoffs next month, which they will begin with a bye in the Bi-District round.

“We have been talking about being more consistent all year, and trying to compete for a whole game,” said Padgett. “Our talk lately has been about where we want to be as a team on the second weekend of November, not where we are right now. We are pushing towards that because we know we are going to play tough teams deep in the playoffs.”

North Zulch views the matchups against the highly-touted district foes, as well as their entire schedule, as a way to become more battle-tested in preparation for a deep playoff push.

“That is where you want to be: can you stay in a game with them and not get blown out of the gym” said Padgett. “And push to be consistent. Obviously, we got beat pretty bad those first two sets. There were some pretty harsh reminders about how I felt about their performance between those sets. I really told them that this is not about Leon, this is not about Iola, because they are not in your (1A classification).”

The Lady Bulldogs battled Calvert on the road Tuesday after defeating them in straight sets at NZHS Sept. 18. They will gear up to battle Centerville for the second time Friday after losing to the Tigers in straight sets Sept. 22.

“We didn't play well when we went over to Centerville (Sept. 22),” said Padgett. “I am interested to see how we play against them. If we play the way we played last week, we can definitely beat Centerville and try to shake things up in our district standings.”

North Zulch will conclude their district slate with matchups against Mumford on the road Oct. 20 and Hearne at home Oct. 23 before opening the 1A playoffs.

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