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Team rides ‘emotional roller coaster’ Senior Night against Collins

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By Tim Hendrick

Senior Night is always an emotional time for parents, players and the outgoing seniors. It wasn’t any different Thursday night for the four seniors at Carroll County High School. Amongst the hugs and the tears, there was a volleyball game that also was an emotional roller coaster.

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Collins High School (11-18) took advantage of the emotions in the first game jumping out to a quick 6-0 lead, prompting a time out from Carroll head coach Kristen Hooper.

After the time out Collins scored four more points before committing a service error. The 10-1 lead could not be overcome as Collins cruised to a 25-9 win in the first set of the match.

Carroll County came roaring out in the second set, taking a 13-4 lead before holding on for a tough 26-24 win. The excellent play of senior middle blocker Ariel Hotfil set the tone early in the set. Hooper said that Hotfil was as solid as rock and played her best volleyball of the year tonight.

The third set started out close, with Collins holding an 8-6 lead, when the assistant coach from Collins protested that the score should be 9-5 for Collins. The discussion resulted in the assistant coach being issued two yellows cards and ejected from the match. After that Hooper said Collins just came out swinging. Carroll hung tough for a few points, but Collins jumped out to a 15-9 lead, forcing a timeout from Carroll County.

After play resumed Collins led 17-9 before Carroll forced a side out. Collins returned the side out and rolled to 21-10 lead before closing the set 25-12.

The final set started out 1-1 before Collins jumped into another gear, rolling off 14 consecutive points and winning the set 25-6. Collins was led by hitters Aaliyah Wells and Michaela Staudemire.

After the match Hooper said it was an emotional night and the team played emotionally. The team came out flat, turned it around in the second set, but rode the roller coaster the rest of the night. She commented that during tryouts they look to see who will be the stable actors when things get tough. Tonight the stable actors were all over the place too.

Hooper said Carroll can play with that team and that they proved it in the second set when they took command of the game and played the solid volleyball they were capable of playing.

Hotfil had seven kills and five blocks, both season highs for her. Burke had 12 assists, Gentry had two kills and Harris had 19 receptions.

Carroll served at 86 percent, slightly off the goal of 90 percent, but reception was the thorn in the side. 

Hooper closed out the night with praise for her seniors: Caitlyn, Megan and Ariel have been with her all five years she has coached here, she said.

Burke is a talented setter with a true love of the game of volleyball.

Gentry moved here her sophomore year and made tremendous strides in the past 12 months to earn her spot on the varsity. She is truly dedicated and a hard worker.

Harris works as hard as any athlete as she has ever had, Hooper said. She puts her heart and soul into every pass, every game. Hotfil has come so far since her first summer. She has grown leaps and bounds. Hooper said she is so proud of all four seniors.

Carroll County closed out their regular season with a record of 16-12. They will be hosting the 31st District Tournament and will play the winner of Eminence-Gallatin County at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The final will be Thursday at 7:30 p.m.