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Hunt High varsity volleyball players will promptly verify that the competitive moment does not get much better than ending the regular season by defeating archrival Fike 3-0 on Senior Night.
With pride the mutual motivating factor, the Lady Warriors squelched a third-set Fike uprising and proceeded to a 25-19, 25-21, 25-19 triumph in the 3-A Big East Conference regular-season finale before a sizable, vocal turnout in the Hunt High gym Wednesday night.
Weather permitting, Hunt enters the conference tournament as the No. 2 seed. Coming off a 3-0 loss to repeat regular-season champion Franklinton on Tuesday, the Lady Warriors finished in second place at 8-2 and stand 12-8 overall.
The senior trio of Allyson Matthews, Brittany Glover and Michaela Evans was treated to a rousing sendoff.
“It feels good,” assured Matthews, who acquitted herself well with 10 service points and 12 digs. “We didn’t get down and stayed positive — we’ve been struggling with that. We worked on not getting stressed and not focus on the crowd. We worked together. We don’t usually get too hyped, but we got hyped today.”
The Lady Golden Demons, coming off back-to-back conference wins, wound up 5-5 in the Big East and will likely deadlock Southern Nash for third place. Fike enters the tournament with a 9-11 overall mark.
“I thought all the girls played well,” reviewed first-year Fike head coach Brent Secrest. “But, at times, we broke down. This was one of our best games that just didn’t go our way. We showed great effort and didn’t give up. I saw a lot to build on. We lost in three sets, but a break or two and it could have been 3-2.
“But (Hunt) has got some really good hitters. I thought they hit a lot better than last time. They were on and that really hurt us. They did a good job of digging because we had a lot of good swings.”
During a third-set time-out, the Lady Warriors got the message from head coach Tiffany Rowe that she did not want a fourth set. Rowe was back on the bench in the capacity of head coach for the first time this season after the birth of her first child.
“I told them that we were going to ride Bri’s (junior Brianna Moore) serving, get the lead and win in three,” Rowe said. “It feel really good to win 3-0. This is the first time they have done that (against Fike) in conference play.”
In the third set, senior Reece Nelson served Fike to a 7-2 cushion. The Lady Warriors rallied even until Nelson’s reverse tip sent Fike out front 10-9. The Lady Demons’ lead reached 15-10.
But Hunt surged behind the serving of Moore and junior Greysen Evans. Michaela Evans’ kill produced a 16-16 standoff and Hunt seized the lead on back-to-back aces from Moore. The Lady Warriors widened the margin, ending the entertaining evening with kills from junior Meghan Martinez and Michaela Evans.
“We kept our serves in and kept doing the things we know how to do. We kept digging the ball, and that helped a lot,” Matthews said.
Added Rowe: “Give Fike credit; the games were close. But we are well-balanced with hitters and we continued to attack and didn’t stop doing what we always do. Once we got the lead ... We were able to execute when the game was on the line. The girls really wanted it.”
The matched opened with seven ties before a team scored its 12th point. Matthews served Hunt out front 14-11 and Martinez’s hitting was prominent in the advantage expanding to 20-13. Martinez served the Lady Warriors to a 23-13 margin. Also critical were Matthews’ tip and a kill and tip from Greysen Evans.
Hunt bolted to 3-0, 7-3 and 9-4 leads in the second set. Fike pulled even at 11-11 before Greysen Evans’ winner enabled Hunt to retain the lead. Fike spurted with Nelson getting support from 6-foot-3 senior Ashleigh Sage, senior Jah’Asia Pernell, senior Lexi Hopwood, junior Caroline Searcy, junior Taylor Boykin and junior Anna Black.
But from a 19-19 standoff, Hunt took command on sophomore Jessica Waddell’s kill, a kill from Martinez, a save from Moore and a kill from junior Alea Jones.
Hunt was triggered by 10 kills from Martinez, nine kills and eight service points from Greysen Evans; seven kills and two aces from Michaela Evans; eight kills from Waddell, 30 assists, four aces and 13 points from Moore; and four kills from Jones.
For Fike, Sage towered for 14 blocks and four kills. Nelson chipped in with five digs, 15 assists and six points. Pernell added seven kills and Searcy five. Boykin served for nine points and junior E.J. Secrest notched 10 assists.
“We lost communication and confidence in the third set,” Black noted. “We should have fought harder; we’ll get them next year.”
Black and her teammates appreciated the vocal support of Fike’s junior varsity players that stirred the crowd.
“It was fun,” she assured. “There’s really nothing like the Fike-Hunt game.”