By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain upset first-place and previously undefeated Hendersonville 25-17, 25-20, 28-26 in a Mountain Six Conference volleyball match last Thursday at the SM gym.
Carley Raleigh and Melanie Hoyle put down 12 and 10 kills, respectively, for the Lady Mustangs (3-5, 3-4), who moved into a fourth place tie with Brevard in the MSC. Ella Gamble had 19 assists and 13 digs. Kennedy Stewman led in digs with 18.
Gamble was tops in service points with 11. Stewman served 93.3 percent, followed by Raleigh at 92.9 and Macy Wike at 91.7. Team serving was 85.5 percent.
The Lady Bearcats played without 6-4 Emily Beeker, who was out with an injury.
“While she is obviously a good player, she’s not their whole team,” Coach Megan Dezarn said. “Even without her they are a really good, competitive team.”
After falling behind, Hendersonville scored four straight points for a 10-10 tie in the first set. SM took control as Wike served four points, with Gamble having two kills and a block for a 24-16 advantage.
Gamble’s three points and Hoyle’s kill gave the Lady Mustangs a 12-6 lead in the second set. They stayed in front the rest of the way and ended the set on Gamble’s kill with Raleigh serving.
Gamble’s five points, including two aces, and Hoyle’s kill pushed SM to a 6-1 lead in the third set. The Lady Bearcats used a pair of 5-0 runs for a 6-6 tie and an 11-8 lead. The Lady Mustangs regained the edge at 12-11 as Stewman served three points. The teams stayed within a point or two of each other the rest of the way. Hendersonville served for the set one time, but SM put the match away on its third attempt as Gamble had an ace.
“We were proud of the girls,” Dezarn said. “They came out with a fighting spirit. Our goal is to win out and to stay up and keep fighting whether we are ahead, tied or behind. There were times when we were down in the third set and it would have been easy to give up and just move on to the next set, but we didn’t. I was pleased with the drive of the girls.”
The Lady Mustang JVs are 3-4 after a 25-12, 25-22 win.
“We’ve been doing a great job of being in position defensively, but we’ve not been going to the ball,” Coach Melissa Hill said. “In this game we got to the ball and got it up. We wanted a mentality that we were getting every ball up so it could be playable by a teammate. Our blockers were in position, and that allowed our defensive players to be in position to get good passes. It was a complete team effort.”