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High-drama comeback ignites Lady Eagles

High-drama comeback ignites Lady Eagles
High-drama comeback ignites Lady Eagles
In the fifth game, Lanesville setter Sarina Belden jumps in excitement after teammate Linzie Wernert (13) put down a kill. Photo by Brian Smith
Brian Smith, Sports Editor, [email protected]

Through four tight games against visiting New Washington, Lanesville never trailed by more than four points.

In the fifth game, however, the Lady Eagles found themselves down six points, 10-4, in the race to 15. Digging deep, Lanesville won 11 of the next 14 balls in play to complete a thrilling comeback Southern Athletic Conference win to defeat New Washington 23-25, 26-24, 23-25, 25-13, 15-13.

“I was trying to get energetic myself for that fifth game,” said Lanesville coach Adam Belden. “Once we got down then made that run, we could see it could be done. The energy helped.”

Down 10-4, New Washington built its lead with Kalin Campbell getting points on the front row. To turn things around, Lanesville was ignited by Linzie Wernert putting down a kill.

It started a five-point run, which featured a key dig from Meredith Hasken, setting up a New Washington error. A pair of additional miscues from the Lady Mustangs was followed by Wernert blocking an Audrey Eurton attack.

The teams then went back and forth with Kat Greenwell putting down winners for New Washington, while Savannah Miller notched a point for Lanesville from the middle on a quick set via Sarina Belden.

Down 13-11, Lanesville went to Miller again, seeing an attack result in a point. The score leveled at 13-all with a Belden ace. Back to Miller, a kill put Lanesville up one, setting up match point. From the back row, Abby Duncan had a pair of digs during a long rally, which ended with a Campbell swing going out of bounds.

“I’m really proud of them because they all fought,” said Adam Belden. “I don’t know who I’ll give MVP to; it may be another team thing. Against Perry (Central) Monday night, I gave it to the whole team because we played some of our best team volleyball. The three games this week, even though we lost to Christian Academy, we’ve played a lot better as a team.”

Through the first three games against New Washington, neither team could get much separation down the stretch in each.

Lanesville raced out to a 12-5 lead behind winners from Jill Kaufman, Hasken and Wernert in game one. New Washington went on an 8-1 run to go up 21-19 as setter Eurton blocked Lanesville chances and had several well-placed pushes.

“I told the girls when we faced them last year, their setter likes to dump the ball when she gets a chance so you have to be ready for it,” said Adam Belden. “We had to keep our offense aggressive because, if we dump balls too short, she’s waiting for it with her height. She’s really good, and I have a lot of respect for her.”

Lanesville went up 23-22 in game one, but New Washington won the final three points, concluding with Eurton pushing a ball deep to an open spot.

Strong with her serve and attack in game two, Hasken helped catapult Lanesville to a 9-3 lead. This time, Lanesville was able to hold off another New Washington run. Once New Washington leveled the score at 17-all, Lanesville took advantage of miscues from its opponent to retake the lead.

Up 24-21, it took Lanesville several tries to earn the game. Tied at 24, Lanesville took the next two points, one on an Alley Roadcap block and the other a match point on a Wernert smash.

New Washington had a slight lead early in game three, but the squads played through ties at 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22. In the end, Campbell had two late kills to put the Lady Mustangs over the top.

The fourth game, however, was all Lanesville. Miller and Hasken had kills for a 4-0 start. Wernert got rolling late in the game as the Lady Eagles dominated for a 25-13 win to set up the fifth game.

“I felt we got off strong in each of the first four games and let them get back into it,” said Adam Belden.

For the match, Hasken had 11 kills while Wernert had 10 kills and three blocks. Miller contributed six kills and Roadcap five. As a team, the Lady Eagles had 12 aces, paced by four from Kaufman. Sarina Belden had 31 assists.

Coach Belden said in practice during the week that the team worked on coming back from a 17-10 deficit. The situation proved beneficial after the comeback in the fifth Thursday.
“We had to execute, and they did,” he said.

Now, the Lady Eagles are 3-0 in SAC play, setting up a key match-up tonight (Wednesday) against Henryville.

“We knew this would be a tough game and we could face New Wash in sectional, too,” said Adam Belden. “To stay alive in conference, we had to get this one. Now, we have a big one against Henryville on Wednesday.”