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Blue Devils knock off Warriors

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Grayson County battled back to win the second set and went on to finish off Chilhowie 3-1.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

INDEPENDENCE –– Grayson County avenged its only loss of the year and improved to 4-1 on the season Monday night, taking a two-set lead and holding off Chilhowie 25-17, 25-23, 21-25, 25-16 in a nondistrict match.

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The Blue Devils had lost in four games to the Warriors last week, one day after knocking off Carroll County.

“We kept the momentum this time,” Grayson County coach Carlie Osborne said. “When we played them at Chilhowie, we couldn’t get it going. We played as a team and everybody worked hard. We let a few balls hit the floor but we played through it.”

After a fairly easy first-set win, the Blue Devils battled back from a late five-point deficit to win the second set. Chilhowie (4-3) took an early 5-3 lead and gradually built its advantage to as large as five points on two occasions, including a 20-15 lead on Amber Joines’ dink.

The Blue Devils responded with six unanswered points off the serve of Madison McCormick. Her ace and kills by Natasha Moore and Mary Meier knotted the game at 20, and a Warrior spike into the net gave Grayson its first lead since 2-0.

The two teams were tied at 22 and 23 before Destiny Shupe put away a kill followed by a Brandi Goad tip that resulted in a Warrior passing error for the winning point.

“It was huge,” Osborne said of the comeback. “When we’re down like that you have to call a timeout, and I hate calling time out, but coming back like that gets the crowd going and gets the girls going and really lifts their confidence.”

Despite Chilhowie’s taking the third set on the strength of eight winners at the net by Monica Fields, Grayson County bounced back and was never really in danger of losing the fourth.

“I told them that they have to keep their confidence,” said Osborne. “If they want to be the team they are capable of being they have to play every ball and keep their confidence up.”

Grayson County trailed in the fourth until an errant serve tied the game at 5-all, starting a 10-3 run that all but decided the set and the match. Tayler Hale’s ace was followed by kills by Camryn McGrady and Meier, and Josie Adams’ ace had the Blue Devils leading 14-8.

Chilhowie would score successive points just twice after that, closing to 18-12 on back-to-back hitting errors by Grayson County, but a cross-court smash by Meier put the Devils at match point, 24-14. The Warriors scored the next two points before the Devils finished it on Moore’s block of a Fields kill attempt.

Grayson County had opened the night on a 5-2 run and never trailed in the first set. McGrady had a block, a dink and a kill to help the Devils take a 10-7 lead, and Moore added two kills and a block in a 5-1 run.

Grayson’s lead grew to as large as 10 points, 21-11 on two hitting errors by the Warriors, before the Devils settled for the 25-17 opening win.

Shupe led the way at the net with nine kills, McGrady and Moore had six each and Meier put away five more. Moore also had three blocks. Goad set the table with 28 assists.

The Blue Devils travel to Galax for an important early Mountain Empire District match Thursday.