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The Lady Panthers volleyball team would not be denied. Down seven points early in game three, the girls rallied to win 28-26 and complete the three-game sweep on visiting Williamstown Thursday, Aug. 16.
“I’m really proud of the way they were able to rally and come back and turn things around and just really communicate,” head coach Kristen Hooper said. “We hit the ball well tonight. It may not be over the top strength, but they’re well-placed hits and we win ball games doing that. I’m really happy with the way the girls played tonight.”
Ariel Hotfil logged 10 kills in the effort, which Hooper said was probably a career high for the senior. Sophomore Kelly Layton notched seven kills, while sophomore Karly Prosser and junior Michaela Culver each had six kills. Senior Caitlyn Burke had 28 assists, which may also be a career high, and senior Megan Harris made nine digs.
The Lady Demons hung tight until about halfway through the set in game one. Hooper said her team started off not communicating as well as they probably should have, but were able to turn things around fairly quickly.
Down 14-13, Carroll’s Hotfil scored a kill to tie the game and give her team the serve. Harris toed the line and served three straights points, including an ace, to give the Lady Panthers a small cushion, 17-14. The Lady Demons hung around, but Burke shut the door with a tip over the net to end the game, 25-20.
Accurate serving and confidence from their first-set win carried the Lady Panthers in game two.
Sophomore Stevie Ogburn had five straight points for Carroll, giving them their largest lead of the game, 20-9. The Lady Panthers eventually won 25-11 on a tip by Culver.
For the night, Ogburn served 18 times, including two aces. Layton scored four straight points, including an ace, and Burke scored three straight.
As a team for the night, Carroll served 86 percent, above their team goal of 80 percent, Hooper said.
Despite being down two games to one, the Lady Demons did not quit. They quickly built a 6-2 lead, forcing a Carroll timeout. They extended their lead to 8-2 before the Lady Panthers could get a side out.
“They’re great competitors; they don’t give up,” Hooper said of Williamstown. “When they struggle, they always seem to find a way to come back. You can never really count Williamstown out because the minute you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile, and we saw that in game three. We weren’t focused.”
Still down five points near the midway point, 18-13, Carroll finally made a run. Harris stepped behind the line and scored six straight points to give the Lady Panthers a 19-18 advantage.
As the game wound down, neither team could put together a streak, and the teams traded serves back and forth. Down 26-25, a deep serve came straight to Harris in the back row. The senior defensive specialist made a move toward the ball, but pulled her hands back at the last second as the ball hit outside the end line, giving Carroll the point and the tie.
Back on offense, Ogburn served for the Lady Panthers, and Prosser scored the point with an attack that was shanked by Williamstown.
Williamstown called a timeout to try and re-group. When play resumed, Ogburn put the ball in play, and Hotfil ended the game with a kill, electrifying the crowd.
“Early on in the year, we knew that we had some experience from our older upper classman and we had our excitement and enthusiasm from our underclassmen, and it really just has meshed these girls together,” Hooper said. “They work as a team and you can tell they’re having fun, so that’s important.”
Carroll is 3-0 thus far, and Hooper said she is really proud of her team. “They’ve set their goals high,” she said. “We’re running after a district title, we’re running after an All-A title; they’ve set their goals and they want it. So we’ve proven that we want it by going after it.”