By Carey Phillips
Franklin built big leads in the first two sets last Thursday setting the stage for a 25-15, 25-16, 15-25, 25-21 Mountain Six Conference volleyball victory over Smoky Mountain at Franklin.
The Lady Panthers took a 4-1 lead with four straight points then broke things open with an 11-0 run to lead 15-3 in the first set. A 4-0 spurt made it 20-7, and Franklin won on a side out.
Set two saw the Lady Panthers break a tie with five unanswered points to lead 9-4. The Lady Mustangs (1-5, 1-4) closed within 16-15 as Olivia Rice served three points, but Franklin ended the set on a 9-1 run.
The Lady Panthers appeared headed for a sweep as spurts of 5-0 and 4-0 opened a 9-2 advantage. SM fought back and took a 12-11 edge as Macy Wike served five points, including an ace, and Ella Gamble had a kill. Natalie Parris served six points, and Melanie Hoyle put down a kill building the lead to 18-12. Alexa Anderson served the last four points, including three aces, and Hoyle had a kill.
Parris served three points while Hoyle had a block and Ella Gamble a kill as the Lady Mustangs led 13-9 in the fourth set. Franklin cut the gap to 16-15 with five consecutive points and took a 19-18 lead on a 4-0 run. The Lady Panthers ended the match with five straight points.
“We had a slow start,” Coach Megan Dezarn said. “Even though the second set score wasn’t much better, it’s like we needed those two sets to wake up and get going. We had a little bit of a learning curve as we moved some people around. It took a set or two to get acclimated and get confidence. After that it was on, and they were ready to battle.”
Gamble recorded 22 assists, 13 kills and 11 digs. Hoyle finished with 15 kills, and Rice led in digs with 23. Carley Raleigh added 16 assists, and Anderson came up with 11 digs.
Parris had nine service points and served 92.3 percent. Not missing a serve were Anderson (15) and Raleigh (eight). Rice served 92.9 percent, and Wike served 91.7 percent. Team serving was 93.6 percent.
“Franklin is a good team,” Dezarn said. “They are tall and athletic and can really hit the ball.”
The Lady Mustang JVs fell to 1-4 with a 23-25, 25-21, 15-13 loss.
“The girls need to be commended for never giving up,” Coach Melissa Hill said. “When Franklin would take the lead, the girls would show grit and determination and close the gap or take the lead. The entire team did a great job on serve receive and free ball passing to be able for Mariella (Sheppard) to set our hitters.”