For the second year in a row White Knoll and Lugoff-Elgin put on a marathon show in the opening match of the volleyball regular season.
L-E prevailed in a five-game thriller a year ago. White Knoll returned the favor on Tuesday on the Demons floor, slipping away with a 3-2 decision in a match that saw the top rank Class 4A teams battling with the kind of intensity usually reserved for state playoff matches.
“We didn’t play our best and there are a lot of thing we still have to learn, but I can’t question the way the kids battled,” said Timberwolves coach Cindy Esposito. “The kids on both teams left it all out there on the floor tonight.”
WK started slowly, falling into a 9-3 hole on the way to a a 25-21 loss in the first game. The T-Wolves jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the second and held on for a 25-20 win in the second to even the count. White Knoll dominated the third game, winning 25-12.
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But the Demons, facing elimination, broke open the fourth game with a 9-5 run at the end for a 25-21 win to force a decisive fifth game. L-E jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the fifth before the T-Wolves put it together to take the game (15-13) and the match.
“It was the same kind of match last season, only the outcome was a little different for us,” said Demons coach Jessica Mullins.
White Knoll’s chief advantage was it’s superior power and height at the net. Freshman Mackenzie Taylor led all players with 19 kills, and had ample support from Tierra Small (12 kills), Lynette Johnson (6 kills, 7 blocks) and Maya Washington (5 kills, 1 block). Senior Sommer Cagle had a fine all around match with three kills, five assists, two aces and one block. Senior setter Solia Niutupuivaha kept the attack rolling with 37 assists.
Taylor’s kill off a Niutupuivaha set was the winning point.
Lugoff-Elgin countered White Knoll’s obvious physical advantage at the net with solid defense and good serving. The Demons finished with 12 serving aces.
Junior Kayla Carraway (10 kills), senior Isabella McElveen (9 kills, 4 aces) and sophomore Sarah Cashion (8 kills, 5 aces) were the Demon offensive leaders. Setters Taylor Mullins and Kristen Jeffers combined for 19 assists. Mullins also chipped in six kills.