CANTON – One point away from having to play a third set with Etowah in the gold bracket championship of the Sequoyah Classic, Sequoyah decided it had played enough three-setters for one day.
Up a set and trailing 24-21 in the second, the Lady Chiefs opted to take care of business by stringing together five straight points to secure a 25-21, 26-24 win to clinch its own tournament Saturday at the War Lodge.
“I was not in the mood for (a third set) at all,” said Paige Powers, who led Sequoyah with 13 kills.
Sequoyah had to earn almost every point in three-set marathons against Blessed Trinity (25-22, 19-25, 15-9) in the quarterfinals and Allatoona (25-21, 25-27, 15-8) in the semifinals.
Late in Sequoyah’s second set against Etowah, it appeared that fatigue started setting when the Lady Chiefs’ passing game got unsteady. After Etowah gifted Sequoyah with a pair of unforced errors to cut the lead in half at 24-23, the Lady Chiefs found their second wind.
Sarah Siepert delivered an ace down the middle to tie it at 25-all before Paige Powers delivered back-to-back kills — the second coming on a tip — to seal the win.
“We were serving well, and they kind of got down, and it all added up in the end,” Powers said. “I didn’t realize the score because the ref was covering it. I was like, ‘What is the score?’ and they said it was 24-25, and I was like, ‘OK.””
Etowah, which came up short in the Sequoyah Classic championship for the third straight year, was led by Savannah Bray’s 13 kills, most of which came in the second set.
When it appeared that Bray was not getting enough swings in the opening set, Etowah got her involved early in the second set and took a 6-1 lead behind three Bray kills and a solo block.
But a combination of Powers getting more looks and a couple of Etowah miscues allowed Sequoyah to work its way back before taking a 10-9 lead on an Etowah hitting error. That lead eventually extended to 15-10 on a four-point service run by Sara Siefert, who finished with three kills and two aces.
That’s when Savannah Bray and her younger sister, Sydney, went on a tear for Etowah. The sisters were largely responsible for getting Etowah back into the match by trading kills.
Sydney Bray ended up with nine kills to go with 10 assists.
“You could tell that there’s a bond there,” Etowah coach Kim Robertson said. “They both have been playing since they were little. They’re definitely going to bring great dynamics to this team.”
With the score even at 21-all, Sequoyah made some unforced errors of its own — sandwiched by a Sydney Bray ace — to give Etowah set points before Sequoyah rallied.
Sequoyah maintained the lead for the majority of the first set after quick start, but Etowah worked its way back before tying the score at 21-all. However, errors at an inopportune time for Etowah, combined with kills from Siefert and Martha Isley, allowed the Lady Chiefs to take the next four points to win the set.
“It’s nice to see when you team can play with composure,” Sequoyah coach John Edwards said. “Either you’re up trying to close a match or a set out, or you’re (trailing). Everyone was focused and still communicating with each other.”
For the tournament, Powers led Sequoyah with 95 kills. Siefert added 51 kills and setter Taylor Pecht dished out 186 assists.