MOULTRIE – Fighting off some indecisiveness on their end and some relentless digging on the other side of the net, Colquitt County High volleyball won for the first time in the new 2019 fall season Tuesday. After a loss last week at Thomas County-Central, the Packers of coach Ron Fowler played a best-of-5 match with Brooks County High and was victorious 3-1. Both the third and fourth sets were battle-from-behind efforts from the third-year varsity program after a runaway opening set in Colquitt’s favor.
The 1-1 Packers return to the home floor at William Bryant Court Thursday for more non-region volleyball action vs. Thomasville High at 6 p.m.
Colquitt County buried Brooks in that opening set 25-11 thanks to a string of service aces by Gracie Long. After she scored four points on the serve, Packer setter Saralyn Nelson earned her first assist to Grace McKee giving the hosts an 11-2 edge. That was actually the second time Nelson tried to set McKee in that one rally as Brooks County showed some defensive capabilities that eventually made it a battle.
With Colquitt still up by nine, 14-5, Lyla Roberts scored a great digging point on a laser attack from the Brooks end. This was another long rally that featured a block by a newcomer to Packer volleyball, Autumn Hampton.
When McKee scored another kill (17-7), that opened up another series of serving aces. These were by Nelson, who had five.
Set No. 2 was even through 10 rallies, 5-5, with Nelson scoring the kill on a tap set up by middle hitter Shadasia Reynolds. McKee also had two kills (one assisted by Nelson), and Sarah Beth Glass – playing the libero role – registered a scoring hit plus a service ace to put the Packers up three, 10-7.
Things began to break down for Fowler’s club in the passing game and hitting errors. Brooks County scored five in a row with two hitting errors before Nelson broke the string with a set to Reynolds. Nelson’s ace broke a 12-12 tie, but that was Colquitt’s last lead of the set. The visitors found the right spots to score four service aces (one out of a timeout), and two more bad hits gave Brooks a six-point advantage at 19-13.
Colquitt wouldn’t let the set go without finding some big plays, including three by Reynolds blocking, smashing in the middle and serving. McKee, with her team down two at 22-20, took serve from a sideout and tied things up. Brooks benefited from one more mistake on the attack and tapped across the ending point at 25-22.
With the match now basically two-out-of-three, Brooks County had new life and momentum in the third set resulting in a 5-1 lead. That’s when McKee came up with five points and Nelson got back in the assist column with a pass converted by Hampton. McKee actually aced three serves in a row to sneak the Packers back in front 8-7. A little run of four points in a row put Colquitt up for good, Reynolds playing a big part hitting a ball back to the Trojans and cashing in Nelson’s set. Long nailed the ace on serve to cap the run for 14-10.
Brooks wasn’t ready for a quick trip back to Quitman as its digging showed. Otherwise, Nelson’s assist total and kill numbers in the hitting game would be higher. Plus, the margin didn’t expand much, for Nelson’s set to Eknadia McIntyre gave Colquitt a sideout and two-point edge (17-15). Roberts aced and Hampton took the Nelson feed to keep Brooks at bay down the stretch and get the two sets to one lead on the Packer side (25-18 the set final).
But this match win overall had to be earned, and that’s what Colquitt did in the fourth set even with early success by Long on serve (two aces) and McKee tapping over Nelson’s next assist. The score, however, flipped from 5-1 Packers to 14-8 Brooks County with three points in a row based purely on digging. There was even a blocking score involved and a couple of solid hits. The 7-0 run from the Trojans ended with McKee tapping the ball, taking the serve and scoring the ace. At 16-12 Brooks, Glass followed a sideout with an ace, and Nelson and Reynolds combined for a block at the far end.
Eventually the Packers were back in front 17-16, Brooks would lead 18-17 and Reynolds smashed Nelson’s pass in the middle. It was either tied or somebody led by one all the way to 23-22 Packers with two more points put in by Reynolds. But her second ace in a row – set up by McIntyre’s key block – put the hosts at match point.
Fowler himself called the ball going out of bounds to end it 25-22.