By Mark Carpenter –
Southern Hills Athletic Conference seventh grade volleyball came to Manchester High School on Tuesday, Sept. 25 as the Lady Hounds entertained the Fairfield Lady Lions. It was a come-from-behind night for the home team as they dropped the first set to the Lady Lions but rallied to take the next two to win a tightly contested match, 22-25, 27-25, 25-23.
Any seventh grade sport is a work in progress and that was the case in Tuesday’smatch as both teams struggled with serving at time and the strong net play that you normally see at higher levels was still just getting there. Overall, the two teams combined for 28 service errors, but even with that, the match was an exciting and close affair beginning to end.
The match’s first set foreshadowed what was to come as the two teams battled with neither able to put together more than a four-point advantage. The Lady Lions drew first blood, going up 7-4 and then later 11-7 and 14-10, but a series of serves by Manchester’s Cara Sweeney following a nice return dig by Emma Gayheart pulled the Lady Hounds into a 16-16 deadlock.
The two sides swapped points until Fairfield grabbed a 22-20 lead, and a service ace by Alex Jones brought Manchester to within 23-22, but the final two points of the set went to the Lady Lions for a 25-22 win and a 1-0 lead in the match.
In set number two, the Lady Hounds rode four consecutive service points by Jaela Horner to a 7-2 advantage but that didn’t last long as Fairfield’s Kenzie Tolle reeled off five straight to tie the set at 10. The serving runs continued as Manchester’s Gayheart served four straight points to give the Lady Hounds a 15-10 advantage. Later, trailing 17-12 the Lady Lions rallied to within two but a pair of service aces by Zoey Fuchs led the home team to what looked like a very secure 24-17 lead, but the Fairfield girls had different ideas as they scored eight straight to put themselves just a single point from taking the match.
That thought didn’t sit well with the Lady Hounds as a service error by Fairfield tied the score and two service points by Sweeney brought the home team back from the brink of extinction and back into the match, evening things at 1-1 with the exciting 27-25 win.
That set up a decisive third set where the serves of Jenna Campbell bolted the Lady Hounds to a 4-0 advantage, which increased to 9-2 on back-to-back-to-back aces from Horner. As it had done for the entire match, the momentum again shifted, this time to the Lady Lions as they grabbed seven of the next nine points and then got five service points from Avery Teeters to claim a 15-12 lead, but back came the Lady Hounds, again on the strength of Campbell serves, to tie the set at 16 apiece.
Manchester later went up 20-18 on another Horner ace and a Campbell kill put the home side in the driver’s seat, up 22-20. The Lady Lions weren’t going away easy, though, as they hung in and pulled back to within 24-23, but perhaps fittingly, a service error by the Lady Lions gave the set and the match to the Lady Hounds, who came back to win two sets to one.
Before the SHAC Tournament begins on Oct. 5, the Lady Hounds will finish their regular season with a match at West Union on Oct. 3, seventh grade at 5 p.m., eighth grade immediately following.