An incredible comeback by the Georgia Northwestern Technical College volleyball team fell two points short on Monday night when the Lady Bobcats dropped a tense five-setter to the Covenant College junior varsity squad at Barnes Gymnasium atop Lookout Mountain.
Covenant (1-1) won the first two sets, 25-16 and 25-23, only to see GNTC storm back to tie the match following wins of 25-21 and 25-16 in the next two sets.
The Lady Bobcats (2-3) appeared to have the match in hand, leading 13-9 in the tie-breaking fifth set, but the Lady Scots broke hearts by winning the final six points for a match-clinching 15-13 victory. It was a bitter pill to swallow for the team, who had to endure a similar fate in a recent loss at Hiwassee College.
“Just like (against Hiwassee), we just couldn’t get that one point or that one sideout when we needed it,” head coach Carrie Powell said. “It stinks to go down like that, 15-13 in the final set after we clawed out way back like we did. Except for that first set, we played really well. Hopefully we can start learning how to mentally finish off these matches.”
The Lady Bobcats quickly fell behind 8-1 in the first set, but scored four straight points to cut Covenant's lead down to three. However, the Lady Scots took control from there, scoring nine of the next 11 points before coasting to a 25-16 victory.
A brief but impassioned diatribe by Powell during the changeover, however, got the point across and the Lady Bobcats began to find their game in the second set. They took 6-5 lead early in the second set and led by as many as five points on three separate occasions, the last at 15-10.
However, the Lady Scots would rally to tie it up at 15 and things would remain tight for the remainder of the set. Covenant would eventually regain the lead at 22-21, had set point at 24-21, but had to hang on for a 25-23 win.
GNTC found itself trailing 10-6 in the early stages of the third set, but bounced back to grab an 11-10 lead. Another back-and-forth set ensued before the Lady Bobcats were finally able to put away a 25-21 victory.
With momentum on their side, the Navy-and -Silver jumped out to a 9-4 advantage in the fourth set and never were truly threatened. A kill by Sabrina Garcia put them up 19-11 and a Rachel McGill ace gave them a 23-15 lead before two straight hitting errors by the Lady Scots gave GNTC a 25-16 win and forced a fifth and deciding set.
The Lady Bobcats led 8-7 at the midway point, but another ace by McGill and a big block by Holly Mount gave the visitors a 13-9 lead in the race to 15 and had the GNTC supporters in attendance on the edge of their seats.
Alas, the final two points never came.
Covenant won two long rallies and used an ace of the own to pull within one. GNTC was unable to return a hard serve, which tied the score at 13. Another long rally ended in match point for the Lady Scots, who got another unreturnable serve to seal the win.
“I switched up our rotations and we handled it great,” Powell said. “I have no idea what we were doing in that first set. Like I told them, I can’t keep standing on the sideline telling them to talk and move their feet. But they knew that and they adjusted in the second set. Sometimes it just takes us a little time to get cranked up, but once we do, we’re fine. We just can’t keep digging these holes for ourselves and expect to get out of them, but I’m proud of the way we fought back.”
Casey Chapman had a team-high 11 kills to go with three aces, three blocks and 33 total digs. Garcia finished with nine kills and 13 digs. Mount added eight kills and four blocks.
Mikiah Treece covered the floor for a team-high 49 digs to go with her three aces. Ashley Bradley collected 16 digs with her 11 assists and five kills. McGill had 21 assists, six kills, two aces and two blocks, while Katlyn Bishop added 25 digs.
GNTC will look to get revenge on Hiwassee College when the Lady Tigers come to the Rossville Athletic Center on Friday, Sept. 26. The match is slated for a 7 p.m. start. It will be the final tune-up before the Lady Bobcats play at Walters State on Sunday, Sept. 28 (2 p.m.) with a berth in the NJCAA Regionals to be awarded to the winner.
Pictured: Lady Bobcats Rachel McGill (11) and Erin Hurley (10) go up to attempt a block during Georgia Northwestern's volleyball match against the Covenant College junior varsity squad Monday night on Lookout Mountain