Lady Jackets earn spot in tourney final
Southern Lee made county-rival and top-seeded Lee County work to make it to the Cape Fear Valley Conference Tournament final, but the Lady Yellow Jackets (15-4) picked up their game after facing, and splitting, two tough sets for a four-set win, 26-24, 20-25, 25-13, 25-19, in a semifinal match Tuesday evening.
After beating Southern Lee (10-7) last week to clinch the conference season title, the Lady Jackets found their rhythm when setter Clay Fowler found her rhythm with her teammates at the net. Fowler spread the ball around to five different Jackets for kills in sets three and four and she finished with 33 assists.
Lee County will host the winner of No. 2 Terry Sanford versus No. 3 Union Pines, Tuesday's later semifinal, at 6 p.m. this evening.
The Lady Cavaliers pushed Lee County to the brink in the opening set before playing very well, mostly in the form of hustling and keeping practically every ball in play, in winning set two.
In set one, a 6-0 run with Erin Pickens serving and two kills by Sydney Elseth in the run put Southern Lee ahead 15-12.
The Lady Jackets got three straight points, with two kills by Chandler Patterson and a kill by Meggan Rose, to make it 17-17.
Back-to-back points by Elseth, who went on to lead the Lady Cavaliers with 18 kills, made the score 22-22.
Emily Stanley turned a soft Lady Cavalier shot into a kill for a 24-23 Jacket lead. A errant serve wasted one set point, but Patterson sent a big swing off a blocker and out for a point, then a net violation on Southern Lee gave Lee County the 26-24 win.
From an 11-11 score in the second set, the Lady Cavaliers took the lead for good with a 4-0 run. Pickens, who set up 23 assists on the night, had six assists in the second set along with two kills as long rallies became scrambling on both sides of the net, but the Lady Cavs took more than their fair share.
Summer Williams scored kills for key side-out points, making it 23-19, then 24-20 Lady Cavs. Marckee Zimmerman's kill took set point.
The third set was still back-and-forth early on. Fowler served a 6-0 run to put the Lady Jackets ahead 16-10 and the momentum stayed with the Jackets.
In the fourth set, a 7-2 Lee County run gave the Jackets a 15-11 lead.
Southern Lee fought back as close as a point twice. From a 16-15 lead, Emily Stanley scored back-to-back points, both off of Fowler sets.
The Lady Cavs worked back within 18-17. Stanley put down a kill, then hit a good serve which wasn't returned. An ace by Ally Davis pushed the Jacket lead to 23-18 and the Lady Jackets closed the win, their third versus Southern Lee this season, from there.
Patterson led the Lee County hitting with 12 kills. Stanley had eight of her 10 kills in the last two sets. Meggan Rose added six kills and Davis had five.