After easily dispatching Cherokee 25-9, 25-14 in the first match of the Area 4AAAAAA tri-match, Etowah (22-14, 5-2) faced off against Woodstock in the final match of the evening.
The first set was a tense affair, as both sides came out full of energy.
It was close early on, with Etowah holding a slim 11-9 lead halfway through.
It was then that Woodstock (23-12, 5-3) began to misfire from in front of the net, sending its attacks out of bounds, and Etowah soon had an 18-12 lead.
The Lady Eagles went on to win seven of the next nine points to win the set, 25-14.
“Woodstock started to miss a bunch of their kills long and it put them in a hole,” Etowah coach Kim Robertson said. “That was when we started to gain some momentum.”
The second set opened much like the first, with both teams working hard defensively to keep it close.
At 6-4, Woodstock rattled off nine of the next 10 points to take a commanding 15-5 lead, and it was seemingly on its way to forcing a third set.
Etowah didn’t go away, however, and climbed back into the set on the back of an excellent defensive display, eventually tying it up at 22-all.
After failing to serve the set out at 24-23, Etowah won the next two points to complete the comeback and give its seniors a proper sendoff.
“Our kids were so scrappy on defense, and they just kept swinging hard and working through their mis-hits,” Robertson said. “Luckily for us, the tide turned and we came through in the end.”
Leading Etowah was senior Carlie Gilbert with a team-high 10 kills in the final match, and juniors Taylor Kimber and Jenna Lea, who totaled seven blocks and 11 kills.
Robertson insisted, however, that the two victories were the result of a team effort.
“I was very pleased with the girls (Thursday),” she said. “They came out, played well and got the job done in two sets, which is something that we’ve struggled with all year.”
As Woodstock coach Anita Dodd saw it, the loss came as a result of the Lady Wolverines not being mentally strong enough.
“Whether it’s football, basketball, or volleyball, it always seems to be difficult for us to beat them,” Dodd said of Etowah, which snapped Woodstock’s 12-match winning streak. “I think our girls were intimidated. We didn’t realize that we have the capability to beat them.”
Dodd and the Lady Wolverines did get a victory earlier in the night against Cherokee, beating the Lady Warriors 25-12, 25-21.
Woodstock opened the first set with a 9-1 run and never looked in danger of trailing.
The second set was a different matter, though, as some desperate defending from Cherokee (3-22, 0-4) kept the score close.
Eventually, with the set tied at 20-all, the Lady Wolverines won five of the last six points to take the match.
Grace Townsend totaled 26 assists against the Lady Warriors, while Kayla Ousley led the Lady Wolverines with 10 kills.
Cherokee coach Kristen Weiss was proud of the way her players fought back in the second set.
“Our girls played hard in the second set, and I’m proud of them for it,” she said. “It was much better than our performance against Etowah, so we were moving in the right direction.”