COMMUNICATION: Madison coach Jeff Lawson (above) huddles with his players during a timeout Thursday in a 3-0 volleyball loss to Floyd Central. Lawson tried to regroup the Lady Cubs several times but Class 4A No. 6 Floyd was just too much for Madison. Macky Hecox (below, 3) shouts passing instructions to teammate Aaliyah Green. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
COMMUNICATION: Madison coach Jeff Lawson (above) huddles with his players during a timeout Thursday in a 3-0 volleyball loss to Floyd Central. Lawson tried to regroup the Lady Cubs several times but Class 4A No. 6 Floyd was just too much for Madison. Macky Hecox (below, 3) shouts passing instructions to teammate Aaliyah Green. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Madison volleyball had dropped four matches to ranked 4A opponents heading into Thursday's senior night battle versus Hoosier Hills Conference foe Floyd Central but the Highlanders proved to be the toughest opponent to date.

Floyd Central, ranked sixth in Class 4A, didn't necessarily dominate the match throughout the course of the evening. In fact the Cubs played solid and matched up well with the Highlanders in most areas. The difference maker however, proved to be the fact that Floyd was just simply a better team, and held enough of an advantage to control all three matches and that resulted in a 25-19, 25-19, 25-18 win.

"We struggled at the HHC tournament last Saturday and I think if we played there the way we did tonight it would have been a different outcome," Madison coach Jeff Lawson said. "But no doubt, Floyd Central is the toughest team we will see all year. They are a very good team but I was happy with how well we played them tonight. I wasn't upset at all."

The first set laid the groundwork for what would become the story of the night. Establishing control early, Floyd Central jumped out to a 6-2 lead, forcing Madison into an early hole.

But the Cubs clawed back, using the blocking of Olivia Crozier and Emily Holland to get within two points at 8-6. But the Highlanders refused to ever let the Cubs to get too close, building up as big as a seven-point lead before closing out the set with a 25-19 win.

Madison turned the tables at the start of game two, racing out to a 4-2 advantage before Floyd regrouped and took the lead at 5-4. From there, the Highlanders exposed the Cubs lone weakness of the entire evening en route to another 25-19 victory.

While Madison was just as good as their opponent in nearly every area, it was Floyd's serving and Madison's receiving that did the damage. The Cubs were forced to adjust on nearly each serve, making it difficult to get set up and attack.

"You know the one weakness we had tonight and it's something we've struggled with and that is serving and receiving," Lawson said. "We are probably a 50/50 proposition on serving and receiving. But I thought we were even with them for the most part and our defense was good but I think if our serve/receive was better we could have matched Floyd point for point. We certainly wouldn't have routed them but we would have had a fair shot."

The strength of Floyd's serving continued in the third and final game. The HHC champions went up 3-0 and added to the lead at 8-3 before Madison called a timeout. The timeout gave Madison some much needed energy but their attempt to keep the match alive was too late as the Highlanders grabbed a 25-18 win, completing the sweep.

Crozier had seven kills, seven block assists and one solo block on the night while Holland added 10 kills.

Hopes of a win on senior night for the Cubs were spoiled at Connor K. Salm Gymnasium but the three seniors, Macky Hecox, Abigail Demaree and Whitney Wynn, played major roles in Thursday's match as they closed out their four-year careers in the red and white. Wynn was 7-of-8 serving with 20 assists and seven kills and Demaree was 8-of-8 serving with 12 digs.

"This is my fourth year with these three senior girls so they represent how far we have come as a program in the last four years," Lawson said proudly. "Four years ago you put us against a team like Floyd and it's not very pretty but I thought tonight they did a great job representing what this program means in terms of dedication and heart. I'm very proud of them."

Madison (25-6) travels to Shelbyville on Saturday in its second to last regular season game of the year.