‘Digging for Diabetes’ raises money for MES students –
Story Mark Carpenter –
One of the most entertaining volleyball matches of the season took place on Wednesday night at Manchester High School as the Lady Hounds welcomed the West Union Lady Dragons to the “Hound Pound.” Not only was the action thrilling for five sets, but the evening also served another purpose as it was the annual “Digging for Diabetes” match between the two schools. The money raised at the match will this year go to purchase diabetic supplies for students at Manchester Elementary.
With all of the events planned on the evening, two evenly matched volleyball tams took to the court and gave the fans their money’s worth. What looked like a breeze for the Lady Dragons turned out to be anything but that as the Lady Hounds rallied from being down two sets to none to force the decisive fifth set, in which the West Union girls regrouped and won to take the match.
The match was close from start to finish, with the Lady Dragons grabbing the first set 25-22. Neither team could take a big advantage in the second set as a series of service errors kept matters close. Up 14-12, the Lady Dragons got three service points from Alex Clark to extend their lead to five, but a nice tip play at the net by Abby McFarland kept the Lady Hounds within striking distance.
That was until West Union’s Kendall Gallowitz stepped to the service line with her team up 20-16 and reeled off four straight points to put West Union on the verge of taking the set. After two service points from Manchester’s Aaliyah Smith, her third serve went into the net to give the Lady Dragons a 25-19 set win and a commanding two sets to none lead in the match.
With their backs against the wall, the Lady Hounds bounced back in the third set. West Union got up early on a series of service points again from Clark, but the Lady Hounds came back to take the lead on seven straight points from the serve of Hannah Grimes. Back and forth the two teams went, with the Lady Hounds battling to stay alive and the Lady Dragons looking to wrap up the match. At crunch time, the match was tied at 21 apiece, but three consecutive points for the home team put them up 24-23. After a timeout by West Union head coach Debbie McClanahan, her Lady Dragons got the next two points to be one away from the match, but a kill and service point from McFarland gave the Lady Hounds a 26-25 advantage. Three combined service errors kept everyone on edge, but finally a serve from Manchester’s Cassie Campbell landed just inbounds and gave her team a 29-27 win to force a fourth set.
Set number four was still a must win for Manchester and they found themselves trailing after another series of Gallowitz serves, plus three straight from McKenzie Bickett. The fourth set turned into another back and forth, trading point after point affair, before a service acre from Sierra Thatcher put Manchester up 23-20. Back came the Lady Dragons and one of Jaycee Baldwin’s 17 kills in the match and a following ace from Bickett tied things at 24. Manchester head coach Kaci Compton quickly called a timeout and it worked, as her team claimed the next two points and the fourth set, 26-24.
That forced the fifth and deciding set and the Lady Dragons jumped out early behind some strong play at the net from Sianna Mills and a string of Baldwin serves. Five in succession from the service line from Kiersten Rowe made it 12-4 West Union. Again, the Lady Hounds rallied to get back to within 14-8, but a service error by the home team accounted for the night’s final point as the Lady Dragons escaped with the fifth set win and the match, 15-8.
“We really played well the first two sets,” said Coach McClanahan. “But then some long volleys in the third and fourth sets wore us down a bit. Fortunately, we came back in the fifth set and played well again.”
Baldwin was solid all night at the net for the Lady Dragons, with her team high 17 kills and she also added five service aces. Alex Clark also chipped in five aces as the West Union girls improved to 6-13 on the season with the win, in a match that did not count in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference standings.
Both teams completed their regular season play on Thursday night, with the Lady Dragons traveling to Peebles and Manchester on the road at Whiteoak. Results of those contests were not available at press time.