By Carey Phillips
East Henderson outlasted Smoky Mountain for a 20-25, 25-17, 25-16, 21-25, 15-13 Mountain Six Conference volleyball victory Friday at East.
“We were inconsistent with how we played,” Coach Megan Dezarn said. “For a minute we looked really good and clean, then the next minute we didn’t.”
East jumped to a 5-1 lead in the fifth set, and the Lady Mustangs (3-6, 3-5) didn’t score an offensive point until their seventh serve. Even so, they pulled into a 13-13 tie as Kennedy Stewman served two points and Natalie Parris had a block. The Lady Eagles recovered to score the next two points for the win.
“Anytime you get down more than three or four points you’ve really got to dig in and be focused to get out of that hole,” Dezarn said. “In a short game playing to 15, you’ve got to make every point count. We did a good job fighting back and getting it tied, then those last two points just didn’t go our way.”
SM took a 15-10 lead in the first set as Ella Gamble served four points, including an ace, and Melanie Hoyle had a kill. Alexa Anderson’s three points, including two aces, and Gamble’s kill made it 21-16. The set ended on Hoyle’s kill for a side out.
The Lady Eagles went up 5-2 with four straight points in the second set. A 6-0 run made it 13-6, and they cruised from there.
East scored the first three points of the second set, then reeled off six straight points to lead 9-2. Another 6-0 spurt brought the Lady Eagles within a point of the win at 24-11. Olivia Rice served four points for the Lady Mustangs cutting the gap to 24-16 before the set ended on a side out.
East jumped on top 5-1 in the fourth set with four straight points. SM pulled into a 5-5 tie as Stewman served four points and Parris had a block. The Lady Mustangs led 23-20 after three points, including two aces, from Gamble. The set ended on Rice’s ace.
Hoyle put down 17 kills. Gamble (10 kills, 20 assists, 21 digs) and Anderson (10 kills, 18 assists, 10 digs) both had triple-doubles. Stewman came up with 30 digs, and Rice had 15.
Gamble led in service points with 10. Stewman served 94.4 percent, followed by Parris and Macy Wike at 91.7 percent. Team serving was 88.7 percent.
Dezarn noted the team had to move some players around and they performed well.
“Alexa moved to setting and Chandler Jerome came up from the JVs,” she said. “We had some newness to our lineup that the girls handled well.”
The Lady Mustang JVs are 4-4 after a 25-5, 25-12 win.
“We came out and took care of business,” Coach Melissa Hill said. “Everyone did their job, and everyone got in the game to play. Chandler and Greenlee (Flynn) both played an exceptional game at the net. Mariella (Sheppard) did a great job setting the hitters after some great passes from Holly (Frederick).”