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Rally time for Lady Warriors

Startling first-set comeback keys Hunt sweep of Northern Nash

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The Hunt High varsity volleyball team learned, as the conference’s defending champion, it can expect every opponent’s best shot in serving into 3-A Big East Conference competition in the Hunt gym Tuesday evening.

The Lady Warriors dispensed with Northern Nash in three sets — but not before tearing from a 24-16 deficit to seize the opening set and proceed to a 26-24, 25-15, 25-9 triumph.

Hunt, in the second season of head coach Tiffany Rowe, boosted its overall record to 7-5 and is now 11-0 in regular-season conference matches during Rowe’s tenure. The Lady Knights, also launching conference play, departed 5-5.

“Northern Nash was a strong team,” Rowe commented. “We were hoping to play well but we started slow. It was a good experience to have, but we shouldn’t have been in that situation.”

Added Amoret Stinagle, one of four Hunt seniors: “We didn’t have the momentum and I had a lot of errors. This taught us a lot to be able to come back from a deep setback. Momentum is everything.”

The Lady Warriors climbed from the 24-16 hole behind the serving of sophomore Meghan Martinez, cutting the deficit to 24-23. Sophomore Brianna Moore’s return dropped in for a 24-24 standoff. Stinagle’s kill sent Hunt ahead 25-24 and Martinez’s serve sealed the comeback.

Northern Nash had bolted to a 9-3 advantage behind junior Maegen Camden, senior Ashlee Brackett and senior Tatyana Dunn. The Lady Warriors drew as close as 12-9 and 13-11 before the Lady Knights spurted within a point of 1-0 lead.

“That was huge,” Rowe described the comeback. “Volleyball is a game of momentum.”

The startling turnaround deflated the Lady Knights, who turned meek and struggled with routine execution.

“But they took the momentum from us with the way they started,” Stinagle reminded.

Hunt blasted the Northern Nash defense for 17 service aces and frequent kills. Senior libero Allyson Matthews and Moore were strong in back.

Moore produced 26 assists. Martinez and Matthews each served for five aces. Stinagle led with eight killls, but Martinez, who joins Stinagle as the only returning starters off last year’s team; senior Sarah Bulluck and senior Madison Parker complemented with seven kills.

“Serving is one of our strong points, especially going for aces,” Rowe said. “We have several strong servers.”

Stinagle noted she is enjoying meshing with a new group that her coach describes as “still young.”

“Being a senior has put a lot on me,” she admitted. “I’ve had to do a lot of growing in picking the team up and being able to lead us. But this team has been really fun to find out who works well together.”

Hunt clicked the final two sets.

Sophomore Greyson Evans served Hunt to a 6-1 margin in the second set. Matthews stepped to the serving line and the Lady Warriors’ lead expanded from 10-8 to 15-8. Martinez, Bulluck, Stinagle and Parker delivered kills. Finally, Moore passed to Bulluck for the winning point.

The Lady Knights briefly led at 3-2 in the final set before Greyson Evans’ ace powered Hunt out front for keeps at 4-3. Senior Kimberly Evans added an ace, and Martinez drilled back-to-back aces in serving for 10 straight points. Back-to-back aces from Matthews ended the match.

“We made a lot less errors and were focused (the last two sets),” Stinagle reviewed. “We knew what we wanted and went after it.”

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