By Thomas Sellers. Jr.
Minutes away from a three-set victory over the Cordova Lady Wolves, the Millington Lady Trojan Volleyball team’s emotion quickly transformed from secure to insecure.
After winning the first two sets 25-21 and 25-20, the Lady Trojans dropped the fourth and fifth sets 24-26 and 25-20. The District 14-3A match up would come down to a fifth set in the William Osteen Gymnasium.
Cordova jumped out to a 6-1 lead and was only nine points away from the comeback victory. But a timeout by Millington Head Coach Jessica Price seemed to give her squad the boost it needed to spark its own comeback to pull at the fifth set 15-13.
“I think we got the big head in going into that third game,” Millington senior hitter Sierra Williams acknowledged. “We were like, ‘Since we won the first and second game, we got this in the third game.’ They came back with so much fire and power because they were thinking like we were in the first and second game. I guess they wanted it more than we did. But we took the last game. We wanted the fifth.”
In the final set the Lady Trojans rallied to tie it at 7-7. The Lady Wolves regained the advantage at 11-8. Millington fought back to take its first lead in the fifth set at 12-11.
“We seemed to get that chemistry back,” Williams note.
After Cordova tied the set at 12-12, the Lady Trojans scored two points including a timely hit by Meghan Sands to make the score 14-12.
“It was amazing,” Sands said of the point that sent the Millington faithful crazy in the stands. “But the game wasn’t over. So we had to keep playing.”
The Lady Wolves gave the final point of the night to Millington returning the ball out of bounds. The Lady Trojans escaped with a five-set district victory.
Millington appeared to be on their way to a quickier victory when the mathc started. The Lady Trojans won the first set 25-21 behind the serving of senior Kara Fleming.
With the score 3-2 in favor of Millington, Fleming took control of the serve starting with an ace. With Fleming’s delivery keeping the Lady Wolves off guard Williams was able to be a force at the net.
The senior hitter started with a spike to make the score 5-2. Then Williams score back-to-back points with a kill and block allowing the scoreboard to read 8-2. Fleming served up three more points to give Millington an 11-2 advantage.
Lady Trojans like Katie Dupree and Ariel Trice scored point to hold off Cordova in the opening set. Dupree had a pair of aces late to give Millington a 1-0 set lead.
The second set was almost a replay of the first. Millington takes a lead behind the serving of Fleming and Williams’ play at the net. Cordova fights back late to make it close. Then the Lady Trojans close it out for the win, this time 25-20.
Confident going into the third set, the Lady Trojans couldn’t shake the Lady Wolves. The third set had two early ties at 4-4 and 7-7. Millington managed to hold a late lead at 16-15. But after Cordova tied the set at 17-17, the Lady Wolves outscored Millington 7-4 to gain a 24-21 advantage.
But Williams tried to rally her team for the three-set swept with a kill that brought the crowd to it’s feet. Behind the serving of Trice, Millington tied the set at 24-24. But the Lady Wolves earned the final two points of the frame to stay alive. Cordova was the confident bunch in the fourth set jumping out 4-0. The Lady Wolves lead grew to 15-7 , and Cordova was ahead 21-13 later in the frame. It appeared the Lady Wolves would cruise to a fifth set with a tidal wave of momentum.
But the Lady Trojans rallied behind Fleming and Williams attacking the net with spikes to make the score 23-20 in favor of Cordova. The Lady Wolves held off Millington for the 25-20 win, but the Lady Trojans cooled down Cordova’s hot tempo.
Millington tried to give back the full momentum to Cordova with a slow start in the decisive set. The Lady Wolves were ahead 5-0 taking advantage of Lady Trojan erases and bad rotation. Then Price called a timeout trailing 6-1.
“We had to make our mentality, ‘It’s our ball. We want it,’” Sands recalled of the timeout speech. “She shoved that down our throats and we finally got it in our heads.”
Millington rallied to outscore the Lady Wolves 14-7 down the stretch to pull out the win. Williams said the Lady Trojans will learn a lesson from the five-set thriller against Cordova.
“Stay positive,” she concluded. “Stay alive. We were really dead that third and fourth games. If we stay positive and work hard, we can do what we just did. We have to stay as team.”