By Greg Brill - email@example.com
QUICKSBURG -- It may not have been looking like a good thing at the time, down a set to Stonewall Jackson.
But a lot could be gained for confidence sake as this season goes on for the Clarke County volleyball team, which rallied to take the last two sets Wednesday night and earn a 3-2 (25-19, 15-25, 21-25, 25-20, 15-9) win.
With a mix of new and old on the roster, the Eagles (3-2) already have earned a pair of five-set victories.
"We knew we had to come back and play our best," said senior outside hitter/setter Chelsea Nelson, who led Clarke County with her 11 kills. "We had to pick up everything [on defense] and we couldn't let the [mistakes] get to us.
"We just had to keep talking on the floor and make sure our attacks were a little more steady. We were moving our feet a lot more and it helped."
Momentum swung the entire match. In the third set, Stonewall Jackson (0-3) stayed close enough before strong work at the end helped the Generals take the lead and move up a set.
The Generals were down by four points several times, the last at 15-11 after Casey Canterbury finished off another strong service run for Clarke County.
A senior, Canterbury blitzed Stonewall Jackson's serve-receive the entire way, finishing with a match-best 12 aces.
"Casey was on," Eagles coach Mary Brune said. "She serves off the wrong foot, but it's still a nice serve. It's a knuckleball serve and it works."
However, the Eagles could not finish the set out strong. Clarke County had several attack errors, and kills by Haylee Bowers, Whitney Wilkins, and Haley Stover helped the Generals close with a 9-2 run.
The Generals were happy to compete better the second time around after falling Aug. 30 at Clarke County in four sets in their opening match.
"I think aggressiveness is one of the things that we brought to the table tonight," Stonewall Jackson first-season coach Jamie Armentrout said. "We didn't have that last time, and I think a little more match experience helped us, too."
During the short, three-minute rest between the third and fourth sets, the Eagles refocused and came out more motivated to get back in the match.
With Amelia Eyles getting a kill to begin the set and adding a pair of aces a short time later, Clarke County moved out to a 7-1 lead. Nelson and Clara Thiel each had two kills, and the Eagles led by as much as 10 to even the match and force a fifth set.
"The third set, we stopped passing and started reaching," Brune said. "I'll give [Stonewall Jackson] credit -- they did a lot of deep and short serves. They'd serve short, they'd serve deep, they'd serve short.
"They did their jobs. I think our team got a little [mad] in the fourth set. They got upset by their play -- but in a good way."
After trading points with Stonewall Jackson early in the last set, Clarke County closed strong. The Eagles scored four straight points, with kills by Megan Allison and Thiel capping the spurt and forcing a timeout by the Generals.
The Eagles held on from there, getting a kill from Meredith Roberts to the middle for the match clincher.
"We were going back and forth for a while [in the fifth set] and we knew that our serves were what really mattered," Nelson said.
Allison and Thiel each had six kills for the Eagles.
The Generals got five kills from Ashlie Clar and four kills from Keyana Phelps. Wilkins made 11 assists in the loss.