The Clinton Lady Dark Horses jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the visiting Lady Leopards of Lakewood on Thursday before a furious rally led to a hard-fought 3-2 Leopards win.
The game was nothing less than a scrape as each set, minus one, was a close tooth-and-nail fight that was decided by a handful of points. Lakewood suffered a huge injury to one of their key starters en route to a 2 sets-to-none deficit, losing 25-23 and 25-12. An adjustment by Lakewood going into set three, running a lineup they never had before, helped breathe new life into the Lady Leopards, which went on to win the next three sets, 25-20, 25-21 and 15-13.
“We went down in those first two sets, which happened after one of my best players who averaged 15 kills a game went down with a sprained ankle,” LHS head coach Shelia Davidson said. “After that we tried something new and got killed in the second set. That third set we ran a lineup we hadn’t run before, thinking ‘what have we got lose’ and that rallied us to take three straight sets,” she continued.
“The players believed in each other and in the huddle of the third set they told me that they were here to play five. I’m proud of the way we came together and played as a team tonight and coming away with this win was huge,” Davidson concluded.
The Lady Leopards surely battled through adversity to get the victory, especially during set four when it looked like Clinton was going to put a cap on their comeback. Lakewood was up by four in the set when the game was temporally halted by a questionable referee call. The point brought Clinton within three instead of trailing by five, after which the Horses scored twice more to come within one as momentum started to swing. Luckily for Lakewood, the tie was avoided thanks to a short serve which returned control to them and eventually led to a fifth and final set.
A great win for Lakewood meant a undesirable loss for Clinton, especially as their first of the season — something head coach Jennifer Edgerton lamented in her brief statement after the match.
“Disappointed, not in the girls but the loss itself, things just didn’t go our way. We’ve got to play for three straight matches and not two,” Edgerton said.
Anna Beth Averette and Taylor Spell led the attack for their respective teams. Averette finished with 20 kills along with six aces for Lakewood and Spell ended with 13 kills and two blocks for Clinton. Defensively, Lakewood’sNiDaria Powell and Clinton’s Jasmine Ford led their teams with six blocks apiece.
With the rival match wrapped up, both teams go to 2-1 on season. Clinton will be home again on Monday facing East Bladen while the Leopards travel to face James Kenan, also on Monday, for more non-conference action.