HERRIN — Massac County fell behind one set in the championship match of the SIRR Conference Volleyball Tournament, but behind four aces by Jessica Hunt, rallied to win the next two sets to beat Anna-Jonesboro and win the title for the second year in a row.
"We knew we had to play harder after losing the first set," Hunt said. "We just decided as a team that we wanted it more, and getting off to good start in the second set was the key. We never worry about falling behind, and it's just crazy and exciting to be member of this team."
Massac County beat Herrin, 25-15, 25-19, in the first match of the championship round, but fell behind 6-0 to open the second match against Anna-Jonesboro and dropped the set, 25-11.
"You saw us coming back all day long," said Massac County coach Zach Miller. "I was glad they didn’t get their heads down after being beat so bad that first set. They rebounded and had some good serves and really started to hit the ball. The game of volleyball is momentum, and starting well at the start of the second and third sets put us in a position to win the match."
After a three-minute break, Hunt went behind the line to start the second set. Jessie Lewis got it started with a tip kill before Hunt served up her first ace. Mollie Fisher then made it 3-0 on a kill from the right side before Hunt aced her next serve.
A hit into the net by Anna-Jonesboro made it 5-0. Hunt then served up back-to-back aces to up the score to 7-0. The Lady Patriots increased their lead to 14-3 and maintained a double digit lead for the remainder of the first set to win 25-11 and tie the match.
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Massac County maintained their momentum to open the third set taking a 4-0 lead. The Wildcats fell behind on a net serve to open the set. Jessie Lewis upped the lead to 3-0 on back-to-back kills and Ellie Weber finished the rally with an ace of her own.
Anna-Jonesboro cut the lead in half, but the Lady Patriots rallied back to take a 7-2 lead. The Wildcats then made a run cutting the lead to 11-10 on back-to-back aces by Elle Basler.
Chelsea Duncan scored on a dink from the right side to stop that rally. Taylor Stoner served up the final ace of the match to extend lead back to three and a net serve for match point. A bad shot staved off the end, but a behind the back return by Aubrey Biggers sealed the set and the match for the Lady Patriots.
Murphysboro finished fourth after wins over Nashville (25-12, 25-21) and Benton (25-22, 25-7). Benton finished fifth followed by Nashville, Pinckneyville, Harrisburg and Carterville. The win over Nashville marked the 500th win for Murphysboro coach Mike Layne over his 20-year head coaching career.
The 2016 All-Tournament team was comprised of Hunt and Ellie Webber from Massac County, Basler and Brooke Miler from Anna-Jonesboro, Hannah Groutage and Makayla Smothers from Herrin, MacKenzie McFeron from Nashville, Brooklyn Calcaterra from Benton, Drew Stokes from Murphysboro, Bryleigh Buchanan from Harrisburg, Kera Kiner from Sparts and Morgan Griffith from West Frankfort.