An undefeated Leesville Road volleyball team found itself down a pair of sets against Heritage Tuesday night.
The Pride had two options: sink or swim.
They swam, capturing a 3-2 (21-25, 21-25, 25-18, 25-12, 15-11) victory over the visitors to preserve an undefeated record as they head into Broughton Thursday. The Capitals are also undefeated on the year.
“In a two-set deficit, the girls just needed to calm down,” Pride coach Erin Hensler said. “Once we calmed down and settled in, their confidence started coming out. We were very nervous to start off the first two sets because of our setter situation.”
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Hensler said the Pride’s senior setter was out with an injury, so they had to start sophomore Megan Farrell. She tossed up 34 assists in her first varsity game.
Leesville Road (7-0, 4-0 Cap-8) gained a 6-2 lead in an imperative third set, maintaining the edge for the rest of the night. The first two sets went tit for tat.
The Huskies (7-4, 2-2) tried to claw back on several occasions, lightening their deficit to 16-11 in Set 3. Ultimately, attacking errors and uncharacteristic ball handling squandered Heritage’s impressive two-set lead.
“I feel like it was a lack of effort,” Heritage coach Jessica Furlough said. “It’s a lesson. Now, every game … is important. It was a lack of focus, a lack of effort somewhat. They’re great girls, and it was just some lessons they had to learn the hard way.”
Two straight Pride blocks in the tiebreaker gave them an early lead, as they controlled the tempo to keep the season blemish-free.
Leesville Road capturing its first lead since Set 1 when it opened the third set with a 4-1 advantage. The Pride went up by a margin as big as 15-6 before finishing the set. Leesville Road had minimal errors early. In the first set, neither team led by more than one point before Heritage pulled away at 16-13, aided by a couple Pride mistakes. But the Pride’s errors didn't cost them as much as the Huskies’ did down the stretch.
Three who mattered
Megan Farrell, Leesville Road: In her first varsity volleyball game, the young setter showed poise. She was filling in for an injured senior, stepping in to run the offense of an undefeated team in an important Cap-8 matchup.
Daniela McDonald, Leesville Road: Her aggressive play at the net pushed the Pride’s fast pace and were, on several occasions, unstoppable. She led the game with 20 kills.
Ellie Lupton, Heritage: The senior captain and setter helped control the Huskies pace when they were down. She wasn’t afraid to tackle multiple attacks from Leesville Road, as she registered 17 digs.
They said it
Furlough on team in Set 3: “I feel like they came out cocky in the third set, and that's one of the things we talked about. You can't be cocky after you win two games.”
Heritage hosts Sanderson (9-1, 4-0) on Thursday. The Spartans on are on a nine-game winning streak and are one of three teams in the Cap-8 that is undefeated. The other two, Leesville Road and last year’s conference champion Broughton, will duke it out Thursday. Broughton (9-0, 4-0) is also on a nine-game winning streak. Brougthon, Leesville Road and Sanderson are the top three teams in the conference right now.
By the numbers
10: Hannah Midles kills in the first set. She finished with 16 for the Huskies.
2: Points Heritage came within in the tiebreaker (11-9) after a Gabby Joy kill gave the Huskies a chance.
34: Assists by the Pride sophomore setter Megan Farrell in her varsity debut.
20: Kills by Leesville Road freshman Daniela McDonald.
23: Digs from Heritage’s Najeel Range. She also had an assist.
8: Aces by the home team. It’s opponent had three.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan