CARTERVILLE — The Carterville Lady Lions withstood a late third set rally by Nashville to upset the Hornettes, 25-22, 21-25, 25-22 in a SIRR Mississippi Division volleyball match Thursday.
"We made a couple transitions on serve-receive which helped our passing and, of course, if you can pass then you can set and then you can hit," said Carterville coach Erika Lange. "The girls made some good adjustments and they came ready to play tonight. A month and a half ago when Nashville made their run at the end, the girls would have bailed, but tonight they played with heart, and that shows you what kind of progression they have made this season."
Carterville (5-18, 2-5 Mississippi) snapped a five-match losing streak while Nashville (10-16, 4-4 Mississippi) had its three-match conference winning streak snapped.
"Serve-receive, defense, whatever you want to call it, is ball control and we didn't control the ball tonight, and we were able to use the hitters we wanted to in certain spots, and when you aren't attacking, I don't care who you're playing — you give them the chance to attack and that makes it that much harder to score points," said Nashville coach Josh Kunkel. "At the end, we focused and had something going, but one play went the other way and that gave them a chance to close it out."
The Lady Lions had got off to a 13-4 lead in the first set, thanks in part to four straight aces by sophomore Ashlyn Mavigliano on Carterville's second service.
Carterville maintained the lead throughout the entire first set and had set point at 24-19, when the Hornettes made a run, scoring three straight points with the help of two Carterville errors to pull within two. However, Kaity Hixson put the first set into the Carterville win column with a smash from the middle. Hixson had seven kills for the game.
Nashville again fell behind early 9-5 in the second set, but rallied to take its first lead of the match 12-11 on an ace by Mackenzie McFeron. Carterville withstood the reversal and regained the lead 20-19 on a stuff by Mavigliano, but Nashville closed out on a 6-1 run on two kills by McFeron and an ace by freshman libero Abby Wesselmann to force a third set. McFeron led the match with 12 kills.
The Lady Lions came out on a roll, taking a 5-0 lead on kills by Montana Taylor and Baleigh Koester and back-to-back aces by Hanna Schulmeister. For the match, Carterville had 15 aces.
"When they started to struggle on serve-receive and started to fall apart the girls could have let up, but they didn't and that was the key to this win," Lange said.
Carterville extended its advantage to seven points at 17-10, and was still leading 19-13 when Nashville called a timeout. After the strategy session, Carterville scored the first point to regain its seven-point lead, but two straight out-of-bounds shots followed by an ace by Abby Kempfer and then two more bad shots cut the lead to one at 20-19.
At that point Carterville called a timeout. Kempfer was still serving and the Hornettes were poised to tie the score when a misplaced set snapped the momentum and gave Carterville a chance to regroup.
Taylor scored, but gave that point up on another bad shot. Brittany Swain gave Carterville a three-point lead on a kill from the right side, but a kill by Bailey Melton from the middle stopped the Lady Lions from match point.
That was only a respite, though. Hixson stuffed Paige Kasten's shot in the middle. Nashville cut the lead back to 24-22. Wesselmann served and Mavigliano blasted a shot from the left side to give the Lady Lions the win.
"We finally won and it feels awesome," Mavigliano said. "We've been having trouble closing out sets, but tonight we played as a team and stayed up the whole time and that was what we needed to do to win. The atmosphere was very energetic."
Taylor led Carterville with six kills with Mavigliano and Swain finishing with five kills each.