WENDELL — Down a game already and trailing 19-14 in the second game of its second round 2A playoff match against visiting Carrboro, it would have been understandable if the Corinth Holders volleyball squad felt a bit panicked.
But if the Jaguars (13-11) felt that they had all but buried the champions of the Northern Carolina 2A Conference, they would soon find out they had not for the Pirates brought their shovels and a little bit of heart to dig out of an early hole.
Corinth Holders (20-6) rallied to take the second game and the following two games for a come-from-behind 3-1 victory (20-25, 25-23, 25-20 and 25-21) over the Jaguars to set up a third round match against Hillsborough Cedar Ridge on Thursday night.
“When this team gets down, we’re not out,” Corinth Holders coach Charles Riley said. “They’re starting to really believe that they can play with some teams.”
That belief was challenged early on, however, as the young Jaguars took it to the Pirates early.
Outside hitter Marie Samek was too hard for Corinth Holders to handle as the junior totaled 15 kills on the night thanks to some great passing from junior setter Anna Tomkins and the duo made their presence known from the onset.
The Jaguars then took control of the first game when their only senior, Michaela Dodd, ran off six straight points on her serve to push Carrboro out to a huge lead and ultimately a first-game triumph. Carrboro coach Steve Scanga declined to comment after the match.
Carrboro would establish leads of at least five points in the following three games as well but was not able to hold off the Pirates who used several good service runs to overtake the Jaguars in each of the three remaining games.
In the second game, Lindsay Alford and Megan Ryals began to challenge Samek more at the net and each player came up with huge blocks against the Jaguars’ leading hitter in the Pirates’ 11-4 rally to close out the game and even the match.
“We focused on getting more of a block in her face,” Riley said. “If we could get some touches, that helped our defense out to get the ball up.”
Doing most of the “getting up” for the Pirates was libero Lexi Consiglio who denied Jaguar hitters time after time with sprawling dives to dig up what would have been Carrboro points. The junior finished the night with 31 huge digs.
As the Pirates improved on the defensive end, the Corinth Holders transition game benefited as well with Pirates setter Nella Chamblee now better able to direct her passes closer to the net for her hitters to start clicking.
Cole Narron led Corinth Holders with eight kills while Alford added six more.
“We started making our shots more crisp; putting the ball in spaces instead of trying to kill it every time,” Chamblee said.
Corinth Holders rallied from a 13-7 deficit in the third game and a 7-1 hole in the fourth game to advance to the third round for the first time in the school’s brief history.
The Jaguars, who will lose just Dodd, showed signs of what might be yet to come for a team composed of six juniors, four sophomores and a freshman.
Tomkins completed her evening with 33 assists for Carrboro. Defensive specialists Anna Broome and Olivia Meyer-Massey turned in impressive performances as well.
The Pirates, who rallied from 1-0 deficits in both the NCC tournament semifinals and championship game before disposing of Louisburg and Franklinton, respectively, hope what they don’t possess will continue to pay dividends.
“I don’t think we do have any quit in us,” Chamblee said. “We don’t ever quit; we stay up.”