Cavaliers rally past Maroon Tide

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By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

HILLSVILLE –– Carroll County twice rallied from a one-game deficit and broke away from a 10-10 tie in the fifth game to edge Galax 19-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-19, 15-11 in a nondistrict volleyball match Monday.

“We won that [Fort Chiswell] tournament [Saturday], but tonight I’m so much more proud of them than I was then,” Galax assistant coach Emily Tolley said. “This was probably the best high school volleyball match I’ve ever seen.”

It certainly had all the ingredients – long rallies, amazing saves, powerful kills, flip-flopping momentum and an outcome that was just as in doubt more than two hours in as it had been before the first serve.

Having forced a decisive fifth game with a 25-19 win in the fourth, Carroll County (4-0) looked to run away with it down the stretch, opening the fifth with five unanswered points, three of them on Galax errors. But the Maroon Tide (5-3) answered with a 4-0 spurt capped by a Jamie Cockerham smash, and the teams battled to a 10-10 score before three kills by three different Cavaliers gave Carroll the lead for good. Kim Caudill, Sarah Singleton and Dionna Reece each put away kills for a 13-10 lead. Galax got to within 13-11 but an errant kill and a Caudill spike finally ended the night.

“It was an awesome game,” Carroll County coach Cindy Edwards said. “We watched them this weekend and we knew they’d be tough. Jamie can really crank the ball, and they all hustle. They have a lot of offensive options and they serve strong.”

Galax head coach Rose Houk couldn’t remember the last time her team had taken Carroll County to the wire, and didn’t even attempt to guess the last time the Tide had picked up a win against the Cavaliers. Yet the Maroon Tide opened the match as if going toe-to-toe with the Southwest District’s top program was a weekly occurrence. An 8-1 run spotted Galax a 14-5 lead in the first game, and though Carroll County nearly caught Galax, trailing 20-19, the Tide put the game away with a 5-0 run on the serve of Jenna White.

“I think it took us a little time to catch up with their speed,” said Edwards. “We haven’t faced anybody like Jamie [Cockerham]. Once we caught up to their speed, I think we were okay.”

Galax scored six of the first seven points in the second game, but hitting and passing errors helped the Cavaliers edge back into it. Carroll’s first lead of the night, 8-7, came thanks to three straight Galax balls in the net, and Jessi Goad later served the Cavaliers into a 21-15 lead with six straight points, two of them on Maleah Neely kills.

Despite dropping the second game and falling behind 6-0 in the third, Galax methodically worked back into it behind the net play of Cockerham, Alli White and Arianna Sexton. Carroll County nearly overcame a 24-20 deficit, pulling to within 24-23 before a long serve put Galax up two games to one.

Galax’s Kem Simmons opened the fourth with one of her eight aces, but it was the only time the Cavaliers would trail in the game, breaking away from a 5-5 tie with an 8-2 run. Leanna Rippey and Honesty Rogers each fired aces in the run, and three Tide errors helped the Cavs forge an 18-10 lead. Trailing 23-15, Galax clawed back to within 23-19 before a Neely kill and a Rippey ace knotted the match at two games apiece.

“In the fifth game we just couldn’t get our passes up [to the front],” Tolley said. “We haven’t had a lot of experience with fifth games. We’ve had a hard time closing games out this year, and we may play a little less aggressive.”

Still, the night gave the Tide a lot to feel good about.

“Last time we came here, we didn’t show up,” Tolley said. “This shows how much the team wants it. I think we can look forward to big things in the district after tonight.”

“In the fifth game, the kids did a good job getting the ball to the setter, and we just executed,” said Edwards. “We did a lot better job with our passing as the game went on.”

Caudill and Cockerham led their teams with 19 and 15 kills respectively. Rippey and Neely added six kills each for Carroll, Rogers had five digs while Caudill and Neely combined for 11 blocks.

Jenna White served for 15 points and put up 23 assists while Allena King and Jill Bartlett had seven digs each.