Jackets go five, stay perfect
In a rematch of last season's Cape Fear Valley Conference Tournament final, the match took one set longer but the result was the same in this season's first meeting between Lee County and Union Pines.
The Lady Yellow Jackets (7-0, 3-0) rallied to take the last two sets to edge the Lady Vikings (4-2, 2-1) 22-25, 25-14, 22-25, 25-17, 15-11.
When the Jackets had to fight back, their top setter, Clay Fowler, and top hitter, Emily Stanley, took over.
After Union Pines held a big lead, then had to hold on to finish off the third set and move ahead again in the match, Lee County jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the fourth set behind five kills, and a few more big hits in addition, by Stanley in the Jacket run.
Union Pines closed within four with a 4-0 run but didn't get closer in the fourth set. Kayla Angell served back-to-back aces making it 16-8 and Lee County led 17-8, then 22-13 after a good service run by Katy Langston.
In the tiebreaker set, three straight points on Fowler's serving gave Lee County a 5-2 lead. Fowler to Stanley connected for two kills taking the Jacket lead to 8-3.
The back and forth match had two more swings to go. The Lady Vikings took advantage of wayward Lady Jacket serves when Lee County's lead could've been safe, instead Union Pines surged back within a point, 12-11.
After a Lee County timeout, Marissa Thomas spiked a kill down into a back corner and Lee County claimed the next two points to win.
Stanley led a host of Jacket hitters with 18 kills. Thomas and Khaira Bolden had eight kills each and Ally Davis had seven kills. Fowler totaled 39 assists and led the Jackets with four aces.
In sets one and three, the Lady Vikings, led by Alex Prots who finished with 13 kills, five aces and five blocks, took their game to the defending conference champs.
Union Pines rallied back from a quick 7-1 deficit in set one to a tie at 12, then a 21-16 lead.
When Lee County answered to reach a 22-22 tie, Prots put down a kill for a side out and Megan Harris served up an ace, followed by a Lee County hitting error. Harris led the Lady Vikings with 16 assists.
A 5-0 Lee County run gave the Lady Jackets an 11-6 lead in set two and they rolled from there as six Jacket hitters scored kills led by Thomas with three in the set.
Union Pines had the next momentum swing with an energetic rally taking the Lady Vikings to a 14-7 lead. Lee County cut a 20-11 Union Pines advantage to as close as three, but still fell behind by a set again.
The Lady Yellow Jackets will take their perfect early-season mark into the annual All-County Tournament at Lee Christian this Saturday. The tourney, with Lee Christian, Grace Christian, Southern Lee and Lee County, begins at 9 a.m.
Union Pines is in a stretch of three matches in three nights with a home match versus Pinecrest at 6 p.m. this evening then a CFVC match at Southern Lee at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.