Sweet Suc­cess

Watch 2-0 lead evap­o­rate be­fore pulling out fifth set

Times-Record - - Front Page - By DAVID INS­LEY dins­ley@star­dem.com

North Caro­line’s Mackenzie Werner cel­e­brates after the Bull­dogs de­feated Kent Is­land in five sets Mon­day, Nov. 6, in the 2A East Re­gion play­offs.

RIDGELY — When your team is down two sets in a best-of­five vol­ley­ball play­off, and trail­ing by six points in the third set, there are only two ways to go: up or home.

Kent Is­land High chose the for­mer Mon­day night, but host North Caro­line hung on and made it the lat­ter.

Trail­ing 12-9 in the de­ci­sive set, the No. 2 Bull­dogs had the last rally, scor­ing the last six points to com­plete a 25-22, 25-12, 23-25, 21-25, 1512 vic­tory and earn a spot in Wed­nes­day’s Class 2A East Sec­tion II fi­nal at top-seeded Queen Anne’s (13-2), which de­feated North Caro­line (12-3) twice dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son.

Kent Is­land, which split two matches with the Bull­dogs, fin­ishef the sea­son 9-7, grad­u­at­ing just two play­ers.

“They just got ADD,” North Caro­line head coach Amanda Van­skiver said of her team. “I don’t know what it was. They just have these mo­ments where they aren’t play­ing, and then they get it to­gether. We had some of those tonight.”

North Caro­line looked fo­cused in the first set, bat­tling through four lead changes to pull ahead for good with a 5-2 rally out of a 14-14 tie. With Ju­lia Edris and Ali Ward serv­ing for more than half their team’s fi­nal 11 points, North Caro­line won the opener 25-22.

North Caro­line eras­ing a one-point deficit with a 10-3 run for an 11-5 lead in the sec­ond set. Trad­ing points briefly, the Bull­dogs led 13-9 be­fore us­ing a 12-3 run down the stretch.

“We definitely didn’t come out ver y strong,” Kent Is­land head coach Pa­trick Hop­kins said. “When we fo­cused, and played the way I’ve been telling them, though, they re­ally turned it around.

“It says a lot about them,” Hop­kins added, “that they could bat­tle back like they did. It’s a shame we had to come out with a loss on this one. We had a few points, a cou­ple of con­tro­ver­sial calls, late, and they didn’t go our way. I thought they should have but that’s the game some­times.”

Un­der the ser­vice hand of Al­li­son Yost for a five-point run, the Bull­dogs looked poised for a sweep, build­ing leads of 10-4 and 11-5.

But then the pen­du­lum swung to­ward the Buc­ca­neers, and nearly stayed there for the rest of the match.

A strong right-handed kill by Han­nah Scott made it 116, and started Kent Is­land’s third-set surge. Four more points un­der Scott’s ser­vice made it 11-9, and prompted a time­out by Van­skiver in a bid to break tempo.

It didn’t re­ally work. Though the Bull­dogs edged to a 16-13 lead, the Buc­ca­neers roared back once more, with seven straight points — two com­ing on aces by se­nior Ca­t­rina Coyner (nine aces) — for a 20-16 lead.

Though the Bull­dogs, down 23-17 after an­other Van­skiver time­out, ral­lied to within 23-22, and sur­vived

the first set point to take the ser ve, trail­ing 24-23, Kent Is­land won the next point to take the third, 25-23.

Kent Is­land con­tin­ued surg­ing in the fourth set, pulling ahead 3-0, 6-2, 14-4, and 20-6. Ahead 21-7, the Bucs seemed to lose a lit­tle mo­men­tum, though, as the Bull­dogs pro­duced their big­gest rally of the night. A 9-0 burst sparked what was a 13-1 run, pulling North Caro­line within 22-20. But Kent Is­land took three of the next four points, a vol­ley fly­ing long at 24-21 to help forge a 2-2 tie.

The Bull­dogs pulled to a 9-5 lead in the fi­nal set be­fore a right-handed shot by Vic­to­ria Zens (six kills) be­gan Kent Is­land’s fi­nal surge. With Emily Blum serv­ing, the guests went on a 7-0 run for a 12-9 lead. The Bull­dogs then dug in their heels. “We just weren’t go­ing to let this hap­pen again,” said se­nior Sarah Mast, who was on last year’s team that got bounced by the Bucs in the sec­tion­als. “We just couldn’t. And when we got that first point (down 12-9) I just knew we could fin­ish it.”

They did, Mast’s ser­vice guid­ing the way through a 6-0 run, bring­ing North Caro­line’s stu­dent sec­tion, which jok­ingly calls it­self “Jury Duty” to its feet.

“It feels good,” Mast said. “Re­ally good . ... I knew we could do it.”

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

North Caro­line’s Ju­lia Edris spikes the ball for a point against Kent Is­land Mon­day, Nov. 6.

North Caro­line’s Mal­lory Short, right, and Ali Ward cel­e­brate Short’s block against Kent Is­land Mon­day, Nov. 6.

PHO­TOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

North Caro­line’s Ali Ward spikes the ball for a point against Kent Is­land Mon­day, Nov. 6.

PHO­TOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

North Caro­line’s Cam­ryn Pep­per spikes the ball for a point against Kent Is­land Mon­day, Nov. 6.

North Caro­line’s Al­li­son Yost serves against Kent Is­land Mon­day, Nov. 6.

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