Watch 2-0 lead evaporate before pulling out fifth set
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.”
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.
North Caroline’s Ali Ward spikes the ball for a point against Kent Island Monday, Nov. 6.
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.