The marquee matchup between two of the area’s top volleyball teams did not disappoint Thursday night at Lakeside High School’s tri-match.
In what could be a finals preview of the Area 2-AAAAA tournament Friday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 12 at Grovetown, the Lady Panthers defeated Greenbrier’s Lady Wolfpack by the slimmest of margins, winning the best-of-three match, 25-27, 25-15, 26-24.
Greenbrier’s standout hitter, DeJhana Cotton, finished the match with six kills, but the Lady Panthers defense denied her three times as Lady Panthers’ setter Breanna Dixon scored the match’s final point with her lone kill of the night.
Following the first match of the night, Greenbrier defeated Evans 25-10, 27-25 before Lakeside downed the Lady Knights 25-13, 26-24.
“It was awesome to beat Greenbrier and Evans and really show them what we can do,” Dixon said.
The Lady Panthers’ (27-8, 5-1 area) hard-fought victory evened the season series at two wins apiece and temporarily created a three-way tie for the area’s top seed between the Lady Panthers, Lady Wolfpack (22-14, 5-1) and Houston County. A Lady Wolfpack win would have given them the outright No. 1 seed.
“We wanted to win so bad,” said Greenbrier setter Lauren Ingalls. “We were trying to put everything behind that game and get that No. 1 spot for regionals. We played our hearts out.”
The Lady Panthers could have folded after seeing 14-5 and 21-16 leads evaporate into a game one loss, but head coach Maureen McCormack noted the team’s resilience.
“Just the way we pulled together and we’re really getting the concept of playing through mistakes,” McCormack said. “We’re not a perfect team, we’re not a pretty team, but the girls find a way to play out long points and keep the pressure on the opponent so we make them make a play to beat us.”
The Lady Panthers used a late 9-2 run to win game two, as Dixon, who finished the match with eight aces, served out the final five points. Holly Sweeting led the Lady Panthers with nine kills and libero Alexis Dunbar had 10 digs.
In the final game, the Lady Panthers jumped out to a 11-5 lead but still the Lady Wolfpack tied the game at 18 on a Katie Anne Wood kill. Gabbi Meyering got three of her team-high nine kills as the teams traded points until a Greenbrier hitting error and Dixon’s kill ended the match.