Third-set rally seals Hunt sweep of Ladybirds

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The host Hunt High varsity volleyball team, idled nearly a week by the threat and effects of Hurricane Florence, wanted no part of a fourth set in returning to action Wednesday afternoon.

Trailing 9-3 and 17-9 in the third set, the Lady Warriors dropped in five of the last six points to complete a 25-14, 25-16, 25-21 3-A Big East Conference sweep of Southern Nash.

Hunt evened its overall record at 6-6 and climbed to 2-0 in the conference. The Lady Warriors welcome defending champion Franklinton on Thursday evening.

The Ladybirds departed 8-5 and 1-2, respectively. Southern Nash continues conference play against Northern Nash on Monday.

“Our body language got better,” coach Matt Lemmons described the Hunt comeback in the third set. “We started playing offense instead of defense and we stopped sending free balls. It’s amazing what a few downed balls can do.”

Junior Meghan Martinez and 5-foot-10 sophomore Jessica Waddell led the assault against the smaller Ladybirds. Hunt finally tied the set at 18-18. After deadlocks of 19-19 and 20-20, senior Michaela Evans served her team to a 24-20 margin. Southern Nash stopped the spree but a deflected hit by Waddell ended the match.

“We started communicating more and worked together more as a team,” Waddell explained. “We saw we were down and had to bring it back.”

Behind the serving and stout all-around play from junior Lyndsey Turner, the Ladybirds, down two sets, stormed to 9-3 and 17-9 leads. Turner was complemented by junior Carrigan Ewers, sophomore twins Alissa and Taylor Bailey, junior Olivia Cruz and junior Magan Bland.

“I thought we had (the set),” admitted Southern Nash head coach Melanie Davis. “But we let (Hunt players) get into our heads and we couldn’t adjust quickly enough.”

Martinez and Waddell powered Hunt to a strong start and command of the opening set.

The Lady Warriors owned a 17-9 margin in the second set. But Southern Nash drew as close as 17-13 behind the serving of Turner. Waddell’s kill finally halted the Ladybirds flurry. Southern Nash would come no closer than 20-16 the rest of the set, which terminated with a pair of aces from Waddell.

Lemmons, who continues to coach the Hunt team, with head coach Tiffany Rowe, who recently gave birth to her first child, on the bench; commended the hitting of the 5-7 Martinez.

“It’s always good to get a win 3-0,” he commented. “But there are a lot of things that we’ve got to clean up. Our serving needs to get much better, and I would like to see a few more blocks. We need to be mixing it up more. But, overall, we are progressing — which is a wonderful thing.”

Added Waddell: “We played good but we can still get better. And we are getting better.”

Southern Nash was paced by eight kills, five aces and five digs from Turner. Ewers supplied five kills and two aces. Taylor Bailey managed four digs and junior Olivia Cruz added three.

Davis noted the Ladybirds need to compensate for their lack of size with scrappier play and more movement.

“But we are a young team,” Davis reminded. “Still, we have the potential to be at the top in the conference. I expect to see more movement the next few matches.”