NC ROUNDUP: North Callaway, Hill block out records in five-set win against Wright City

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 10/1/22

North Callaway has been trying to build a volleyball program ever since establishing it in 2014.

On Tuesday night, two records fell in a five-set victory against Eastern Missouri Conference foe …

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NC ROUNDUP: North Callaway, Hill block out records in five-set win against Wright City


North Callaway has been trying to build a volleyball program ever since establishing it in 2014.

On Tuesday night, two records fell in a five-set victory against Eastern Missouri Conference foe Wright City (23-25, 25-14, 22-25, 25-23 and 15-13). Head coach Andrew Klein secured the first conference victory in his tenure that started last season but also the North Callaway program snapped an 0-36 EMO losing streak that spanned to a Sept. 22, 2016, victory at Bowling Green.

Sophomore middle blocker Bailey Hill was a big reason why as she broke the school single-game blocks record with nine stuffs, which previously stood at seven by Becca Bloss. Sophomore outside hitter Natalie Shryock led the team with 12 kills followed by freshman outside hitter Rylee Horstman at eight, junior libero Riley Blevins led with 15 digs, and setters senior Ellie Pezold and sophomore Jaden Smithee combined for more than 25 assists.

North Callaway was down at several points in the match, falling behind 2-1 and trailing 18-15 in the fourth set and 13-11 in the fifth set. Klein said the team has lost some four-set and five-set matches this season so it would be easy for the girls to feel down but is glad they rose to the challenge for the monumental victory.

“We’ve been here before, and we’ve been on the wrong side of it before,” Klein said. “Our girls didn’t really love that feeling and that’s understandable. Those are the really tough ones to lose. This time, it fell our way.

“It’s important, and I’ve appreciated over the last few weeks, that our players trust one another in big moments. Try not to step on each other’s feet. We have two seniors and a whole lot of sophomores. When you trust each other down the stretch, it makes the game a lot easier. You pick each other up, and it makes us feel a lot less nervous in moments like that.”

Shryock showed her serving prowess early in the first set, leading North Callaway to a 9-4 advantage. The Ladybirds finished with 14 service aces on the night, but Wright City was close behind with 13 aces.

The Lady Wildcats found the holes where the Ladybirds weren’t to take the first set and did the same to win the third set and build leads in the fourth and fifth sets. Klein said the stepping on each other’s feet could be taken literally as, at times Tuesday, there were several Ladybirds occupying the same space and the middle was left wide open on some points.

“We still got a lot to work on,” Klein said. “It’s hard to pass a volleyball when somebody’s on top of you. Trusting in one another and allowing the girls next to them to make plays and trusting them to make plays, it’s super important when you’re in close games like that.”

An outlier set was the second set when North Callaway blitzed ahead 18-7 after a 9-1 run. That particular run was capped by an ace from Pezold — one of seven in the set for the Ladybirds.

“We’ve gotten so much better at (serves and serve receives),” Klein said. “That allows us to breathe easy when we go on rolls like that, where we don’t hand back the serve very often. In that second set, we just got on a roll there, and Wright City had a hard time passing our serves.”

After dropping the third set, Klein said his players did what they’re best at: bouncing back. There were a couple of times North Callaway tied the third set at 18 and 19 only to lose its grip. That appeared to be the case again in the fourth set until Hill stepped into the picture of Wright City’s attackers.

Hill blocked a ball to tie the fourth set at 18 and stuffed another Lady Wildcat hitter a few points later for a 20-19 lead. Wright City outside hitter Jasmin Simpson cut her team’s deficit to 24-23 with an ace and put North Callaway in jeopardy of needing extra points in a do-or-die set.

“Bailey is terrific at playing when she has confidence in herself and when the players around her give her confidence,” Klein said. “She is the ultimate move on type of a player. She makes a bad play, she moves on. That allows her to play really well for long stretches. She made a few errors tonight and I think she had a couple lifts too, but she shook those off. If she hadn’t shaken those off, I don’t think she could have had the impact that she had tonight.”

Sophomore outside hitter Avis Endres swooped in for the set-winning kill and forced the fifth one, which North Callaway played once this year at conference foe Intensity Homeschool before losing it.

With the fifth set comes less points for victory so Wright City took a timeout after down 5-3 early and North Callaway did the same after the Lady Wildcats rattled off a 5-1 run for a 13-11 lead. The Ladybirds won the final four points, with Hill laying down two kills and Wright City being called for a net violation on the final point.

“I didn’t have a great angle from where I was sitting, but from my understanding, their middle (hitter) ran into the net on the last play,” Klein said. “They did score the point, but she called a net fault. I think they called the same for both sides tonight — I think they missed a few both ways.”

With that EMO conference monkey off North Callaway’s back, the Ladybirds (5-11-1, 1-4 EMO) were excited for their next conference matchup at Bowling Green (4-9-4, 1-2 EMO) on Thursday. They will hosts Brookfield on Monday.

“We’re still trying to learn, but they’re super-awesome at bouncing back and being able to use criticism,” Klein said. “They just do a good job at bouncing back and not taking things personally.”


Silex’s two swings leads to 6-2 loss for North Callaway

North Callaway pitcher Ellie Bedsworth gave up nine hits Thursday at home to state-ranked Silex but was pretty much only hurt on two swings.

The Class 1 No. 4 Silex won the Eastern Missouri Conference matchup in Kingdom City 6-2 after scoring two runs on an inside-the-park home run in the first inning, after the outfielder didn’t signal a ball was out of play, and adding three more on a long home run by Maddy Hall in the seventh inning. 

Bedsworth allowed three earned runs via four errors and one walk while striking out five Lady Owls (12-8, 6-2 EMO) in 6⅓ innings. The Ladybirds finished with six hits, including two doubles and an RBI from Olivia Knoepflein and Kymorie Myers had a double and an RBI.

Ladybirds not sure-handed in 14-4 loss at Louisiana

North Callaway doesn’t have this much trouble against Louisiana. It doesn’t have that much trouble fielding the ball as was the case Tuesday night either.

The Ladybirds lost 14-4 in six innings after not previously losing to Louisiana in an Eastern Missouri Conference game — with the most recent overall loss happening in 2010 — since the school joined the EMO conference five years ago. They committed a season-high eight errors to allow seven unearned runs between pitchers Lauren Speight and Ellie Bedsworth.

Louisiana’s offense still showed up as it outhit North Callaway 14-10, including two of the first three batters that bunted for base hits in the first inning. For North Callaway’s offense, Kymorie Myers had two RBI and a triple, Corynne Miller finished 3-for-3 with an RBI single in the fifth inning, Olivia Knoepflein went 2-for-2 and Faith Cash had a double.

The Ladybirds cut the deficit to 4-3 after the third inning but allowed the game to get away from them after an eight-run fourth inning for Louisiana (7-8, 4-4 EMO).

North Callaway (6-12, 4-4 EMO) plays its third state-ranked opponent in four games, Class 3 No. 3 Chillicothe (17-6), at 9 a.m. today in the first round of the Centralia Softball Tournament at Nathan A. Toalson Bicentennial Park. The Ladybirds start the day on the west field.