Lady Viking rally sacks Southern's senior night
Union Pines couldn't officially call its volleyball victory a comeback on Cavalier Court Tuesday night.
The Lady Vikings never trailed in the match, but a dramatic rally to win the match, fending off seven Southern Lee set points which would've brought up a fifth set, looked and felt exactly like a comeback. Union Pines (12-5, 7-3) spoiled Senior Night for eight Lady Cavalier seniors with a 25-20, 21-25, 25-17, 27-25 win.
The Lady Vikings trailed 24-18 in the fourth set before rolling off six straight points and nine of the last 10 to end the match. Stephanie Johnson, who led the Lady Vikings at the center of the net throughout, had two blocks and more altered Lady Cavalier plays during the rally.
One of her blocks made it 24-23 and Alex Prots hit a shot off the net cord and down into the center of the Lady Cavalier half for 24-24.
After the second Southern Lee timeout trying to stop the Lady Viking run, Summer Williams hit an accurate shot down the line and in for a Lady Cav point and another set point.
Union Pines handled the set point with Megan Harris setting for a kill by Johnson. Tiffany Hicks hit a push shot into a deep corner for a UP kill and a 26-25 UP lead. Prots got the clinching point, with a spike the Lady Cavs got to for two scrambling digs but couldn't return.
The Lady Cavaliers led for some of the opening set. A serving run by Erin Pickens took the Lady Cavalier lead to 12-8. After Union Pines closed to a point, a kill be Williams ended one of many long, hustling points battled by both sides. Marckee Zimmerman hit a fastball for an ace making it 15-12 Lady Cavs.
The Lady Vikings relied on Johnson to turn the set around from there. Johnson, a 6-foot-0 sophomore, put down two kills for a 16-15 Lady Viking lead. The run continued on Harris's serving to 18-15. The Lady Vikings kept at least a two-point cushion the rest of the way.
The Lady Cavaliers had the last surge in a back-and-forth second set. Three straight points, including two Zimmerman aces, made it 14-10 Southern Lee. Union Pines rallied back to a 19-17 lead.
Zimmerman tapped a shot down for a point, tying the set, 21-21, then scored with a block to put the Lady Cavs back in front.
Another marathon rally ended with a Lady Viking net violation, then two Union Pines hitting errors put the set in the Lady Cavalier column.
Union Pines jumped out to an 11-2 lead, and kept going to a 20-8 margin to control the third set and take the lead.
The momentum switched back to the home team for most of the fourth set. Rachel Wilson, Williams, Zimmerman and Madison Henley combined for 12 kills in the set, mostly with Pickens doing the setting, before the Lady Vikings stormed back after nearly being forced to a tiebreaker set.
Harris had 33 assists and five aces for the Lady Vikings. Johnson had nine kills and six blocks as the Lady Vikings got 11 blocks total. Prots had a team-high 13 kills.
For the Lady Cavaliers, Pickens had 18 assists and five kills. Williams had 12 assists and seven kills. Sydney Elseth had 10 kills. Zimmerman had eight kills and five aces.
Before the match, Southern Lee recognized its eight seniors - out of 12 players on the varsity squad. The class, last season, is a large part of the first-ever Lady Cavalier Cape Fear Valley Conference season championship. The senior Lady Cavs are Hunter Riggins, Pickens, Wilson, Henley, Zimmerman, Brandi Turner-Kelley, Saara Lindbohm and Amber Hall
"It's been a luxury and an honor coaching these girls for the last three years," said Southern Lee head coach Jennifer Goldberg. "These girls are like the little sisters I never had and I'll really miss them."
"It hasn't been the smoothest road to get to this point, but it's been worth it," said Goldberg.
In 2011, Southern Lee went 4-8 in its Cape Fear Valley season before going 10-2 and winning the season title last fall.
The Lady Cavaliers (7-4, 5-4) have three matches, all league matches, left to their regular season. Southern Lee will play at Westover at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Union Pines sweeps the Lady Cavaliers for the regular season and remains within striking distance of Lee County and Terry Sanford atop the CFVC standings. The Lady Vikings play at O'Neal at 5:30 p.m. this evening and will host Douglas Byrd at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.