Despite tough start, Lady Longhorns take three matches from Lady Cavaliers
By Jonathan PleasantThe Lady Longhorns kicked off the last week of their regular season with a bang, playing a tight match against the Holston Lady Cavaliers in Damascus. Playing a four game match, Holston caught Johnson County off guard in the first round, putting up a surprising fight and taking advantage of any mistake the Lady Longhorns made.
“Tonight Holston played well that first game”, said Johnson County Coach Eric Crabtree. “They took it to us. It was a good game.” Although the Lady Cavaliers gave the Lady Longhorns the initial lead with an out of bounds serve, Holston was quick to put any and every point they could get on the board. Johnson County made a block early on to put them 2-1, but struggled to get out of a big early slump that left them to watch as the Lady Cavaliers climbed point after point to finally settle at a whopping 13 point lead at 2-15.
Johnson County fans could not believe this turn of events. Even strong players like Sarah Swift seemed impressed with the Lady Cavaliers effort. But, as Swift also pointed out, although it was a little too late to change the outcome of the first game, the Lady Longhorns began to get back into rhythm later in the match. “You could tell that we got off to a rough start,” Swift said. “But we kept pushing through and that’s what really matters. I feel a lot better. I think we’re used to playing really tough teams and when we play a team that’s a little more generic and not like the teams we typically play, it throws us off. I think I could have done a little better. I always find things I feel I can improve on, but overall I played pretty good. It was good to know that we can all come together as a team.”
Johnson County really began battling back at the end of the first game, starting with an ace from Linniea Youngue along with strong performances from Katelynn Stout and Rachel Poteet. Serves by Haley Miller and Brionna Reece helped put the Lady Longhorns back at 9, but by then Holston was simply too far ahead at 20. Ultimately the first round came out to an 11-25 loss for Johnson County.
Warmed up after a rough start, the Lady Longhorns were determined not to repeat their early mistakes, and although Holston put up a good fight and managed to keep the lead for the first few volleys of the second game, Johnson County finally managed to take back control with help from Sarah Swift. Having been beaten soundly in Mountain City earlier in the season, the Lady Cavaliers were loath to let their early success go, and worked hard to keep pace, resulting in a very close game all the way through.
In fact, right up to the end Holston continually tied and even retook the lead at times. A couple of consecutive blocks by Brionna Reece helped Johnson County gain a couple points to even up the score at both 13 and 14, but the Lady Longhorns didn’t get the real break they needed until getting an ace put them ahead once again at 16-15. Holding the momentum, the game began to pick up pace as Johnson County pushed the deficit higher and higher. Eventually, the Lady Cavaliers were held at 19 while the Lady Longhorns got the last few points they needed to bring in a win at 25.
Back on a level playing field with one win each to their credit, the third game started the whole battle over again, this time in an even closer round that saw the final score go to 27. The Lady Longhorns were on the winning end once again, maintaining a tenuous lead through most of the game. Holston was never far behind, however, and even when they did falter managed to regain their composure and push that much harder. At one point the Lady Cavaliers were behind 17-14, but brought that back to a tie at 18.
The end of that game came down to a very close tie at 25, after Johnson County actually lost the lead and fell behind by one point. A last push gave the two points needed for the win, but as Coach Crabtree pointed out things could have easily went the other direction. “It was a well played game,” said Crabtree. “Holston played a really good game. They had some good digs, some good kills and it was just a good game on both sides of the net. We were just fortunate to be on top of it. We just never play well on Mondays.”
Even in the fourth game, the Lady Longhorns could not catch a break. Although they started off on better footing, gaining an early 4-2 lead, the Lady Cavaliers were soon at it again, tying up at 5 and 6. Yet, after losing two close games, Holston was starting to show signs of wearing down, and even though they came very close at times, they were not able to regain control of the game. Trailing just behind their opponents all the way through, the final volley came down to a 25-21 victory for Johnson County. With three wins to their credit, the match ended in the Lady Longhorns favor, but for a team who was expecting an easy start to the week, Johnson County really had to work for every point.
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