Carroll County did its best Rocky Balboa impression Thursday in a battle of volleyball heavyweights in Hillsville.
With first place in the Three Rivers District on the line, the Cavaliers took every shot the undefeated Bobcats could deliver. But like Rocky, Carroll County (9-1, 5-0 Three Rivers District) refused to go down, fighting back from a 2-1 deficit to win in epic fashion in five sets. In the deciding fifth set, the Lady Cavs trailed 9-4 before getting up off the mat and finishing on an 11-3 run to hand Radford (11-1, 3-1 Three Rivers District) its first loss of the season.
“That was a hell of a game. This group fights. They battle…I am proud of them so much because they didn’t panic and just roll over and die where I feel like in the past we have done that,” Carroll County head coach Cindy Edwards said. “But again, I think we have grown with the club, with them playing more, seeing more situations of what they have to do. I feel like they are just growing and maturing and again we are a senior group. It is a good mix of juniors and seniors and the one sophomore is going to be phenomenal, but I like our kids because they play so hard. If you don’t play hard you are not going to play. That is just my feeling because we have to work hard because we are not tall, we are not the most athletic and so we have trouble matching up with your power teams, but these kids play hard and that is all you can ask.”
Division I Charleston Southern commit Emma Minnick dished out an incredible 50 assists for the Bobcats and Trinity Adams finished with 28 digs. The two led the charge for a Radford team that looked overpowering from the start as the Bobcats held leads of 12-6, 16-10 and 18-12 in the opening set. Radford was still up 20-15 in the first set before Carroll tied it up with a 5-0 run. Erin Hash had a huge kill during the run and Hannah Farmer had back-to-back aces. The Cavaliers scored 11 of the last 15 points to eventually take the opening set 26-24.
Radford regrouped in set number two, racing out to a 6-1 lead and never trailing after that for a dominant 25-18 victory. The third set was a back-and-forth battle featuring 10 ties, the last coming at 15-all. Just before that last tie, play was stopped briefly as Taylor Spangler’s 1,000th career assist put the Cavaliers up 14-13. The milestone dish made Spangler just the third player in CCHS history to reach 1,000 career assists as she joined Jessi Watts and Maleah Neely. The Bobcats went on a 6-1 run, however, and scored 10 of the last 16 points to take a 25-21 victory. The set victory put Radford up 2-1 and seemingly in control of the match.
Things continued to go the Bobcats’ way in the fourth set with the team opening up early leads of 5-2 and 10-8. An Alexia Snavely block and kill highlighted five straight points for the Cavs, who rallied for a 13-10 lead. With the score knotted up at 15, Carroll reeled off seven straight points to go up 22-15. Radford would counter with a 6-1 run to cut it to 23-21 before the Cavs scored two of the last three to win 25-22, laying the foundation for the deciding fifth set.
After four grueling, high-level sets, both teams appeared to be running low on fuel in the final game. Radford gained early control, however, taking a 9-4 lead. In particular, the official appeared to miss a call that increased the Bobcat advantage to 8-4 when he ruled a ball the Cavs clearly dug had hit the floor. Momentum clearly on its side, Radford scored the next point to go up 9-4.
Again, the Cavaliers refused to go down. Cassidy Lawson gave Carroll new life with a kill that sparked a 5-0 run. Radford scored the next point to briefly reclaim the lead before Lawson, Skyler Petty and Adrienne Harris threw down consecutive kills for a 12-10 lead. Radford retied the contest at 12-all before another Harris kill ignited a 3-0 run that secured the victory, and first place in the district, for the Lady Cavs.
“Tonight they played with a lot of guts. Tonight they refused to lose,” Edwards said. “The pancake (in the fifth set) that was totally up could have been the turning point and I told him, ‘You are killing our momentum. Let the kids play.’ I said, ‘You just seized the momentum to them by doing it.’ But we tell them, ‘Let’s not whine, let’s not complain, let’s just play ball,’ but I felt like maybe it helped to fire us up a little bit, too. It was one of the best games we have played in a while.”
Harris led Carroll County with 15 kills and 32 digs. Chasity Tompkins had 31 digs and Haley Spangler finished with 19 digs and 16 assists. Taylor Spangler led the Cavs with 18 assists, including the 1,000th of her career, to go along with three aces. Hannah Spangler contributed three aces, Lawson threw down eight kills, and Hash chipped in five kills and a block. Farmer had two kills, two blocks and two aces and Snavely added a block.
“We have a little momentum and we haven’t had it in a while. We haven’t had a lot of district stuff on that wall in a while but we have been in a heck of a district. Nobody can complain about our schedule for the past five years,” said Edwards, referring to Carroll’s four-year stint in the River Ridge District. “We have played some competition and in the long run it has helped us. This group of seniors was that group of sophomores that we got our butt whooped day in and day out. And guess what, we were overmatched. We knew that. But we took a bunch of JV kids that year and played them on varsity because we had to, and they have grown from it.”
Carroll Co. 3, Alleghany 1
Hannah Spangler dished out 15 assists and went a perfect 20-of-20 serving Sept. 25 as Carroll County’s volleyball team defeated Alleghany in a Three Rivers District contest in Low Moor.
Spangler also finished with two aces and a team-high 21 service points as the Cavaliers upended the Mountaineers 25-16, 25-21, 26-28, 25-23. Adrienne Harris led Carroll County (8-1, 4-0 Three Rivers District) with 15 kills to go along with 26 digs.
Chasity Tompkins paced the Lady Cavaliers with 29 kills and Cassidy Lawson contributed 12 kills. Erin Hash had a huge night at the net with seven blocks and three kills. Taylor Spangler had a balanced effort, leading the team in assists (16) and aces (3). She also chipped in 12 digs and 19 service points in the victory.
Carroll County’s JV team improved to 7-2 overall and 3-1 in the Three Rivers District on Sept. 25 with a 25-17, 26-24 win over Alleghany. Natalie Harris paced the Cavs with 12 serving points. Kaylee Bunn contributed nine service points, Carlie Love had seven and Madison Stockner, Lilly Marshall and Adrianna Salyer each finished with five. Alisha Bemis and Heather Martin both had three service points, while Ashlee Vaughn and Haley White tacked on one each.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN