Coming on the heels of a tough win against Providence Academy earlier in the week, the Lady Longhorns were ready to take on the Avery County Lady Vikings at home Wednesday night. At first it appeared that Johnson County was going to have an easy win in their first round, pulling ahead 12-3 in the first few minutes and getting as far as 19 before the Lady Vikings began to really push back. However, in a shocking change of pace, Avery County kicked their game into overdrive, turning around what would have been a tough defeat at 19-9 to ultimately tie up the game and take the win 26-28 after tying at 26.
We had every chance to get up and go away and didnt, said Coach Eric Crabtree after the game. We just didnt do enough at the end to win it. I dont know that theyre better than us but they played better than us. We stood toe to toe with them and should have won the first game. They just made plays we didnt. Caught off guard by that first loss, the Lady Longhorns scrambled to get back on their feet in the second game, falling behind initially 2-5, but catching back up to take the lead at 13-12. The Lady Vikings remained right on Johnson Countys heels throughout the game, showing just how evenly matched the two teams were.
A last push offensively coupled with a few Avery County mistakes at the net allowed the Lady Longhorns to pull ahead from a tie at 20 to get the win at 25. With both teams at 1-1 for the match, the third game became a race to get ahead. Pulling ahead by five early on, it looked as though Johnson County might have regained its composure and drive, complimented with several big plays from Rachel Poteet and Sarah Swift. Yet, in another shocking rebound the Lady Vikings managed to make up a five-point deficit at 8-3 to ultimately take back the lead 14-15.
Once again faced with a big push by Avery County, the Lady Longhorns began to fall behind, dropping from 16-19, to 17-22, and ultimately facing a loss 18-25. Despite the second defeat, Coach Crabtree still seemed proud of the girls effort. We battled all the way to the very end and thats all I can ask, Crabtree said. That was a very good team and a lot of the spikes and hits we had would have been points against a lot of teams we play but they had a lot of good saves. We had some girls step up when they needed to and they played hard but it just wasnt enough.
With the match on the line, Johnson County played the closest game of the night in the fourth round. With both teams neck and neck throughout the game, the win came down to a tie at 25. Every volley from this point was its own battle, with Johnson County first taking the lead and then Avery catching up. With every point the fans became more excited, knowing that one mistake could cost the Lady Longhorns the match. Tied again at 27, Johnson County took the lead one more time at 28. In an extremely tense last serve the Lady Vikings made every effort to stay in the game, but ultimately the point went to the Longhorns, giving them a second win at 29-27 and continuing the match to a fifth and final game.
Playing to 15 as a tiebreaker, the fifth game started out with Johnson County on the initiative, scoring the first point. Showing signs of wearing down after already playing four full games, neither team was willing to let the other get much of a lead, but by the eighth or ninth volley it was apparent that the Lady Longhorns were in trouble. Dropping behind 4-6, the Lady Vikings exploited every Johnson County weakness, allowing them to steadily increase their lead. Before long, the Lady Longhorns were looking at a four-point deficit at 5-9 and then six points at 6-12. With only two points to go, Johnson County simply ran out of time to catch back up, but still made a valiant effort right to the end of the match, eventually holding Avery at 14, while they climbed from 6 to 11. Even at this late stage fans were hoping that Johnson County might pull off a stunning comeback of their own, but it was simply too late in the game. With one final score Avery County walked away with their third win and the match at 11-15.
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