WOODSTOCK — The energy in Etowah’s gym last Tuesday had the feeling of a state playoff match, but both coaches said it was just a typical match in Region 4AAAAAAA.
“This was just a regular ol’ early season-match in the region of death,” Lassiter coach Greg Hodge said.
After trailing 2-0 in the best-of-five match, Lassiter (11-2, 1-1) won three consecutive sets to beat Etowah 3-2.
Players and fans became increasingly engaged as the match moved toward its conclusion. Neither team could separate itself beyond a two-point lead in the final set, and after both teams were tied at 14, Lassiter scored the final two points to claim the match.
“We had the same thing happen to us last week against Roswell, where we lost in five after being up 2-0,” Hodge said. “We took a little bit of that sting from that and gave it to (Etowah) tonight.”
After winning a competitive opening set 25-22, Etowah (11-4, 1-1) seemed ready to cruise to a sweep midway through the second set.
Led by senior Savannah Bray, who led the team with 22 kills, the Lady Eagles took a 12-4 lead midway through the second set. Bray’s power and finesse around the net helped push Etowah to a 25-19 win in the second set, and the final result felt almost a formality entering the third set.
“You can’t win the fifth set if you don’t win the third set,” Hodge said, “so you play with nothing to lose, but it’s all about winning the third set. One point at a time, one play at a time.”
The energy level of the Lassiter players seemed to rise in the third set, and it never wavered. Once the momentum fully set in, the Lady Trojans began to roll.
Lassiter took a 8-1 lead to start the third and expanded the lead to 21-10 before taking the set 25-13. Led by Claire Parsons, who finished with 20 kills and eight blocks, the Lady Trojans carried the momentum into the fourth set. Etowah had its chance up 22-20 late in the set, but Lassiter scored the next five straight points to take the match to the final set.
“Volleyball is a game of taking advantage of the other team’s mistakes, and I thought we made some crucial mistakes down the stretch where I think we should have put it away and we didn’t,” Etowah coach Kim Robertson said. “Our region is going to be really tough this year. Every team will be competitive. I guess the lesson to be learned with all these young kids we had tonight is, when you’re up 2-0, you’ve got to take care of business. You can’t let somebody back in the door.”