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Galax had waited for what seemed like forever for a volleyball win over Carroll County. Waiting a couple more extra games didn’t dampen the enthusiasm once the victory came.
The Maroon Tide jumped out to a quick two sets-to-none lead but would find itself playing for more than an hour longer before it finally subdued the Cavaliers, earning an emotional 25-16, 25-22, 23-25, 19-25, 15-11 nondistrict win Monday. The win avenged the Maroon Tide’s only defeat of the season thus far, a 3-0 Carroll County decision in August.
Exactly how much time has passed between victories over the Cavaliers?
“Honestly, I cannot remember the last time we beat Carroll,” said Galax coach Rose Houk. “Tonight was a hard night for us. We played in memory of Jimmy Cockerham. So many of the Cockerham family have played volleyball here at Galax, so we said we were going to do it for Jimmy.”
Despite having dropped two straight sets, Galax (17-1) opened the decisive fifth as if the momentum gained early in the match had never waned. Grace Wilson opened the fifth with an ace, and the Tide got three kills from Bailey Shumate, another from Harley Brewer and an Allison White block to surge to a 7-2 lead.
Carroll County (8-6) would draw to within two points on two occasions, including 10-8 on a Tide hitting error, before Galax took over with a 4-1 run sparked by Taylor Bryant’s kill.
Ashley Willard gave Carroll County one last glimmer of hope with a hard spike for a 14-10 score before a ball into the net provided the Maroon Tide the final point.
“It was a great game,” Carroll County coach Cindy Edwards said. “We didn’t quit. We battled. Give them credit – they put the ball down. At the beginning of the fifth game we didn’t put the ball where we could attack it, and they did. The difference was us not executing the ball in bounds.”
It was the sixth time this season that Carroll County has come out on the short end of a five-set match, including four times in the team’s last six matches.
Two Wilson aces and a pair of kills from Brewer got the night started off right for Galax, which never trailed in the first set after taking a 5-0 lead.
The Maroon Tide weathered a shaky stretch midway through in the second set, giving away six straight Carroll County points and falling behind 13-11 on a variety of miscues. Down 17-16, Galax strung together six unanswered points starting with a Morgan Neff spike and ending with a running smash by White off a back set from Shumate. Carroll caught Galax at 22 on an ace by Jessica Sheek before Galax finished the set with kills from Shumate and Paige Hanks.
Willard reeled off seven straight serving points as the Cavaliers took a 12-6 lead early in the third. Galax managed to pull to within 24-23 late before Lexi Hodge’s spike finished the game.
“They had nothing to lose in that third game so we knew they’d play all-out,” Houk said. “We had trouble getting our hits to go down because they were digging everything up, and they were double- and triple-blocking Alli at times. We just told her to keep swinging.”
Momentum stayed with Carroll County through the fourth. Consecutive aces by Hodge boosted the Cavaliers to a 6-1 lead. Galax caught Carroll at 10 when back-to-back smashes from White capped a 6-0 run, but the Cavaliers responded by winning six of the next seven points, starting with a Morgan Dickens winner. The Tide never got closer than four points the rest of the fourth.
“We played with a lot of confidence the fist two games and then we got rattled,” Houk said. “Carroll County plays awesome defense. They get everything back. We just had to get our confidence back.”
White led Galax’s hitters with 15 kills, adding 15 digs and seven blocks. The players wore tape on their wrists with the initials of Cockerham, White’s uncle and an avid supporter of Maroon Tide athletics, who had passed away Saturday.
Brewer had a big night at the net with nine kills and 10 blocks and Neff finished with seven kills and a dozen digs.
“We’ve just got so many threats,” said Houk. “We’ve got so many girls who can put the ball down, and our setters are doing a great job getting the ball to them where they can do something powerful with it.”
Willard and Hodge paced Carroll County, combining for 41 points, 17 kills and 13 digs. Dickens added 19 assists, 12 points, 10 digs and five kills.