Story and photo by Mark Carpenter –
Despite a big rally that saw them come from two sets down to force a decisive fifth set, the Manchester Lady Greyhounds volleyball squad still found themselves on the short end of the scoreboard at night’s end, falling to the Fairfield Lady Lions in Southern Hills Athletic Conference action on Thursday, Sept. 28 in Manchester.
The two teams met earlier this season, with the Lady Lions winning in straight sets, and it looked like the visitors might repeat that performance as they took the first two sets of Thursday’s match. The first set was a nip-and-tuck, back-and-forth affair until about midway through, when a series of service points by Ally Davis gave Fairfield a 16-13 advantage. With senior Alyssa Hoskins serving, the Lady Hounds rallied to tie the set at 16 but Fairfield claimed nine of the next 12 points to take set one, 25-19.
The second set was not nearly as close as the Lady Lions took control early and never looked back, mainly due to a string of eight consecutive service points from Layla Hattan that gave her team a 13-4 lead. The Lady Hounds stayed alive thanks to some nice plays from senior McKinlee Grooms and sophomore Madison Jones,but the deficit was too much to overcome as Fairfield took command of the match by winning the second set 25-14.
With their backs against the wall, a different Manchester team took the court for the third set. Two service aces by freshman Brooke Kennedy gave the Lady Hounds an early advantage, added to by a pair of Hoskins service points. Leading 11-10, the Lady Hounds claimed the side out and sent Grooms back to serve and she reeled off five straight to put the home side up 16-11. Volleyball can be a game of momentum and the big “Mo” shifted back to the visiting side with seven service points in succession from Fairfield’s Kami Magee that gave her side a 19-16 lead.
Back came the Lady Hounds behind the serves of senior Katie Sandlin to take a 20-19 lead and a later series of three service points by Kennedy closed out a 25-22 third set win for the home team.
With the match still on the line, the fourth set was a battle, with neither side able to get more than a four-point advantage. Even at 11, Sandlin served the Lady Hounds back into the lead and the two teams traded points until late in the set. Manchester went in front for good on three Hoskins serves combined with a Sandlin kill and held on to win the fourth set 25-20, evening the match a two apiece, and forcing the deciding fifth set.
Maybe it was the energy exerted in the comeback, but the Lady Hounds came out flat in the fifth set as Fairfield raced to a 7-0 and rolled to a 15-5 win, taking the set 3-2.
“A teams tacked with seniors and playing on their home court is capable of making a comeback like that,” said Manchester head coach Kaci Compton after the match. “They really didn’t want another loss so they laid it all out but unfortunately, we fell short in the end.”
“We just made too many errors back to back in that last set. We literally ran out of gas.”