Viking Netters Advance
The Union Pines volleyball team survived a five-set roller-coaster ride to top Williams High in the opening round of the 3-A NCHSAA state playoffs Friday in Cameron.
With the 25-23, 22-25, 25-11, 19-25 and 15-12 victory, Union Pines (22-3 overall record) bounced back from a crushing conference tournament loss in the championship match held on its home floor Tuesday at Bob Ward Gymnasium.
“Coming off the loss to Western Harnett in such an important important match, our confidence was not at its highest,” said Vike senior captain Morgan Bridgers. “That is why it was crucial for us to come out strong and win that first game tonight, because that set the tone of the match and gave us some early momentum.”
In the opening game, Union Pines trailed 7-2 early but mounted a 17-8 run to gain control of the set. Then after dropping the second set by three points, the Vikes steamrolled their way to a 25-11 win in the third game in taking a 2-1 lead.
Union Pines junior Zazil Porras figured huge in the set, registering four kills, two blocks and two aces.
“I am really excited about this win,” said Porras. “After the loss to Western, we decided to wipe the slate clean to make it 0-0 and take it step by step. We did that tonight by taking the first step with this victory. Our main focus was to be strong coming out tonight, especially up front with our blocks and hits.”
The Vikings tallied 46 kills and 13 blocks on the night. Leading the way for the Vikings were the Hicks sisters, as senior captain Crystal had 11 kills and three blocks, while her sister, sophomore Tiffany, finished with 10 kills and five blocks.
Kelsey Troyer (11) also had a double-digit final kill count to go along with three blocks.
After Williams (16-5) battled back to claim a decisive six-point victory in set four, it all came down to a race to 15 in the fifth-set tiebreaker.
Bridgers sparked the Vikings to an inspired run to fight back from a 6-4 deficit in the final set to grab a 12-9 lead, and eventually seal the deal with a 15-12 win to advance into Tuesday’s second round of the playoffs.
“I did not want our season to be over,” Bridgers said. “So being a senior I felt like I needed to step up and be a leader. In the fifth game it is all about what team wants it more. The girls came out strong in the last set and proved exactly how much we wanted this win.”
In the fifth set Bridgers registered eight assists, two kills and a block, and finished the night with 36 assists. Junior libero Brittany Erickson also had a huge match for the Vikes, with 17 digs and five kills.
After the match Union Pines head coach Leslie Fish said she was proud of the effort she got from her team.
“The girls came out tonight being aggressive,” she said, “and stuck to doing the things they know and do best. They trusted each other tonight and each one of them played a big role in this victory.”
Contact F.W. Manning II at email@example.com.
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