High School Sports

Raiders dig out of hole to win

The five-point deficit seemed like nothing to the Raiders. After coming back from a 10-point deficit in the first game of Wednesday's Class 2A second round match against Liberty, host Keenan was confident that a three-game victory was possible.

They were right. The Raiders (21-7-4) rallied to win the game 26-24 to complete a 3-0 (25-18, 25-10, 26-24) victory against the Red Devils.

Liberty started the final game with a few miscues, but quickly rebounded to take the lead. With Amber King serving, the Devils went on a six-point run and led 16-11 when Q'Jannis Wilson's kill finally broke the serve.

Keenan coach Gwen Wilcher knew her team could handle the pressure to rally.

"That's the thing, even with a young team, if they've done it once, they know they can do it again," Wilcher said.

So, when the Liberty advantage grew to seven points, the Raiders kept their heads.

Then, trailing 22-16, Keenan began its final push.

Wilson dropped back to serve and Rebekah Davis finished the point with a killer spike. Wilson served until the Raiders were two points behind.

A sideout by the Devils tied the score at 23.

Liberty coach Carla Simpson urged her team to stay cool.

"It is hard to do that, but these girls have done a great job of doing that this year, all season. They are able to pull it together and play smart in tough situations," Simpson said.

When the Devils moved ahead 24-23, though, they could not finish. Serving for gamepoint, the Devils could not put the ball in play and wound up tied again at 24.

The Raiders served the final two points to win.

Liberty came out strong in the match, building a 12-2 lead in the first game against a slow-starting Keenan squad.

"You just never know what they're going to be like," Wilcher said of her young team. She had not expected the slow start, but was not surprised by their forceful comeback either.

The Raiders battled back to tie the score at 12, then climbed ahead, dropping six points on the way to a 25-18 comeback victory.

"What that does is it shows them that even it they start slow, if they stay in it, play smart, that they can always still win," Wilcher said.

Keenan will play host to the winner of the Gilbert-Woodruff match in a third-round match on Tuesday.