On an emotional night in Manchester, the MHS volleyball team walked away with a win on Senior Night in straight sets over Fayetteville , 25-21, 25-23 and 23-12.
Senior Morgan Johnson “went out with a bang” as Manchester Head Coach Tabitha Spires put it, as she finished her final regular season home game with 26 kills to lead all scorers and is now two kills away from 1,000 career kills.
“[Morgan] was all over the place,” Spires said. “She can also pass the ball and she can serve.”
An emotional Senior Night ceremony for the six senior Lady Hounds started off the evening and the team responded well to the moment as senior Summer Wilbur started off the game with back-to-back aces and before long MHS led 8-2 on an ace from Johnson.
“They were really ready to play right out of the gate,” Spires said. “I try to get them pumped, maybe they really liked their Senior Night gifts. But they wanted to end with a bang for their last home game.”
That lead stayed fairly constant at 14-6 after Fayetteville sophomore Haley Moore spiked a set into the net and the Rockets burned a timeout a few plays later when a soft kill by Johnson brought the Greyhound lead to 16-9.
Coming out of that timeout, it appeared as if Wilbur tweaked her knee, already in a substantial knee brace, when she was stretching. However, Wilbur continued on and the Manchester team that was injured to the point of what looked like no return about a week ago is almost back to 100 percent according to Spires.
“We’re alright,” Spires said. “Summer’s knee still hurts a little bit and I don’t know how much longer it’s going to last but she will not stop. Her wrist is better and everyone else is fine now.”
Fayetteville made a comeback in the final portion of the first set as the scoreboard read 23-21 in favor of the home team but the Rockets would get no closer as the set ended a few points later, giving Manchester a 1-0 lead.
While the Greyhounds jumped out early in the first set, they fell behind just as quickly in the second set. Freshman Abby McFarland was struck in the face with a serve she attempted to return, much to the chagrin of her teammates, but things looked as if that was the way the second set was going to go for MHS.
A few Fayetteville aces and a lift violation by Cassidy Spires dug the Greyhounds into a deeper hole until the head coach used a timeout down 11-4. The timeout was short-lived as Spires told her squad, “Do your job!” and do their jobs they did afterwards.
Johnson rattled off nine serves in a row and all the while screamed for her teammates to set her the ball every possession the Greyhounds had. Before much longer, what was an 11-4 deficit turned into a 13-13 tie after Johnson slammed the ball down on her opponents again and again.
It looked as if the effort of Johnson and her teammates was going to go for naught when Fayetteville kills by senior Meghan Koch and aces by freshman Alisa Stahl brought the lead back to 22-15. Johnson continued her one-woman offense with a kill to make it 22-16 and that prompted the second comeback of the set as more kills by Johnson and a tip by Cassidy Spires that found the court gave the Greyhounds their first lead in the second set at 24-23. On the next play, a tip at the net by senior Kalya Wagoner completed the comeback and gave her team a commanding 2-0 lead.
What looked as another competitive set in the third stanza proved to be anything but by game’s end. Fayetteville kept it close early trailing only 6-5 and 9-8 before an ace by Cassidy Spires pushed the lead to two. From there, seemingly in the blink of an eye, Manchester led 16-8 after multiple serves from Wagoner. That lead grew to 20-9 after another Johnson kill and the game ended on a return of a serve that went too long, giving the six seniors a final regular season home win.
“Each and every senior went out there, worked hard and played hard,” Spires said. “They did their job like they’re supposed to.”
Manchester opens up tournament play with a sectional final at home at 6 p.m. on Oct. 22 against either White Oak or Sciotoville.
Reach Charles Grove at 937-544-2391 or firstname.lastname@example.org.