By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The last week of August would be a test of endurance, skill level and potential for the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels.
Wendy Porter’s bunch opened the week with a victory over Class 3A power Arlington on the road. The following night the University School of Jackson Lady Bruins made their way to the TRA Gymnasium for a showdown.
Both teams lived up to the hype playing three exciting sets. The Lady Rebels earned a sweep of the Lady Bruins 25-19, 27-25 and 25-22.
“We had to keep our energy up for sure,” TRA libero Neely Turner noted. “Once we have our energy up our crowd is behind us. We have a lot of momentum.”
The home crowd had quiet moments during the Aug. 28 contest when the Lady Rebels fell behind in the second and third sets. The opening set gave the TRA faithful a lot to cheer about as Sarah Allyn Thornell spotting the Lady Rebels a 6-0 advantage with her serving. Thornell had a pair of aces during the stretch.
Later in the first set TRA went ahead 10-5 when Mary Leslie Cranford served an ace. USJ rallied to take a brief lead at 15-13. Then the Lady Rebels outscored the Lady Bruins 12-3 to close out the first set. Neely Turner gave USJ a preview of things to come in the second set serving up multiple points for her squad to make the lead 24-16. Her teammate eva McIntosh had a block during that run to make the tally 21-16.
After winning the first set 25-19, TRA was on the brink of losing the second set trailing 24-17. Then Neely gained control of the serve giving the Lady Rebel offense a chance to regroup.
“You just have to be a smart server and serve it to their weakness,” Turner noted. “You have to keep pushing it and not let the timeouts get into your head.”
TRA’s 7-0 run was highlighted by Thornell scoring on a push. After Turner served an ace, Cranford finally tied the set at 24-24 with a push. Turner’s next ace gave the Lady Rebels the advantage at 25-24.
USJ tied the set at 25-25. TRA proceeded with the next two points to capture the victory ending the second frame with an Cranford ace.
The Lady Bruins appeared to bounce back from the heartbreaking second set jumping out 18-9 in the third set. Then a push point from Lady Rebel Mary Catherine Turner sparked TRA on a 11-2 run to deadlock the set at 20-20.
“We couldn’t let them get into our heads,” Mary Catherine said. “We had to keep pushing and fight through.”
Once Mary Catherine saw her spike attempts coming up short or too long, she made an adjustment at the net.
“My swings just weren’t making it over today,” she acknowledged. “So I just pushed it to where they weren’t.”
One of Turner’s pushes made score 20-19. Neely Turner deadlock the score with a back row kill. TRA went ahead 22-20 when Cranford served another ace.
The Lady Rebels were on their way toward victory when MC struck again with push to the corner over all the Lady Bruins to make the score 24-21. Both teams scored one more final point on the evening, but the Lady Rebels’ score was good enough for the overall victory.
“We have to keep pushing forward and working together as a team,” Mary Catherine said. “Just keep the energy up throughout the game.”
“As long as we work as a team, we’ll be fine,” Neely Turner concluded.