By Carey Phillips
East Henderson pulled away down the stretch in the fourth set to clinch a 25-21, 25-16, 24-26, 25-22 Mountain Six Conference volleyball victory over Smoky Mountain on Dec. 1 at the SM gym.
Ella Gamble served the first three points of the match, including an ace, for the Lady Mustangs. East reeled off six in a row to go up 6-3 before Alexa Anderson’s four points gave SM an 8-7 edge. The Lady Eagles took charge with four straight points to move in front 22-17 and went on to the win.
East dominated most of the second set after taking a 15-4 lead with 11 unanswered points. Natalie Parris served three points, including two aces, and Gamble had a block cutting the gap to 17-11. A 4-0 spurt made it 22-14, and the Lady Eagles clinched the set.
The Lady Mustangs controlled most of the third set but had to hang on at the end. Gamble served the opening three points with Melanie Hoyle and Carley Raleigh having kills. Anderson’s four points, including an ace, and Raleigh’s kill extended the margin to 8-1. East had four straight points narrowing the deficit to 20-17 and eventually pulled into a 24-24 tie. The set ended on Anderson’s ace.
SM held a narrow lead most of the fourth set, but East ran off the last five points of the match.
Anderson had 15 service points and served 95.8 percent. Gamble followed with 11 points while serving 90.5 percent. Parris finished at 92.9 percent, and Raleigh served 90 percent. Team serving was 93.6 percent.
“I was pleased with our serving,” Coach Megan Dezarn said. “We set a goal of serving 85 percent or better, and we did that.”
For the most part she said she was pleased with the team’s serve receiving.
Hoyle put down 16 kills. Gamble followed with 10 to go with 21 assists and 14 digs. Raleigh totaled 18 digs and 14 assists. Kennedy Stewman came up with 15 digs.
“We struggled hitting overall, but Melanie and Ella stepped up and hit well,” the coach said. “We didn’t capitalize on our opportunities offensively.”
The Lady Mustang JVs picked up their first win of the season 25-20, 25-10.
“That was the first time that a lot of things we had been working on came together,” Coach Melissa Hill said. “Our transition looked good. All six people on the court knew where they were going. It was a complete team effort. In the second set we started playing at our pace and set the tone and were able to get a substantial lead.”