LAURINBURG — The crowd erupted with every point on Thursday as the Lady Scots forced five games against Sandhills Athletic Conference rival Pinecrest.
The Lady Scots fed off the energy and jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the fifth set off an ace by senior Nahir Pegues and back-to-back aces by Abby Quick. The momentum shift forced Pinecrest to call a timeout, the pause in play didn’t dampen the spirits of those in the crowd.
After a kill by Pegues sailed out of bounds, Pinecrest got the ball back but it was the Lady Scots who kept the ball rolling. Senior Ashley McGugan slammed a kill down in the middle of the Lady Patriots defense to put her team up 8-2 and bring the crowd to their feet.
A kill to the very tip of the right corner earned Pinecrest a point, but another kill by Pegues and an ace by junior Mason Roberts pushed the Lady Scots lead to seven points, 10-3. Pinecrest scored only three more points as the Lady Scots ended the marathon match with an ace by McGugan to secure a 15-6 win. The ace by McGugan brought the entire crowd to their feet cheering and screaming — led by a around 15 Fighting Scots football player who came to support their female counterparts.
Lady Scots head coach Mallory Wheeler credited the energy of the crowd to helping her team get over the hump and extend their win streak to six games.
“I thanked all of them (football players) for coming because that helped, they girls loved it. That’s something that we don’t have a lot at volleyball games is a big crowd so a lot of times it’s really quite in here but they fed off it and enjoyed it,” Wheeler said. “I’m thrilled, I told the girls I could probably cry. I told them before the game, this is huge. They are a good team that we need to beat.”
The determined, polished Lady Scots from the fifth set didn’t look that way at the start of the match. Pinecrest won the first set 25-19 as the Lady Scots struggled with communication and mental errors. The Lady Scots rallied in the second set going point for point with the Patriots.
A serve into the net by Pinecrest gave the Lady Scots the ball back with a 15-11 lead. The Lady Scots would build on that lead to secure a 25-18 second set win.
The third set saw the Lady Scots allow Pinecrest to take a 7-2 lead before Wheeler called a timeout. Wheeler told her team the roller coast play needed to stop and that they needed to even out the game.
“I lit a fire under them and told them show me you want it. They finally found that energy and I saw that they wanted it and they earned it,” she said. “We were all over the place and I wasn’t really sure. There are points when they play great and no one can beat them and when you’re bad — you’re bad. So we have to find a flow, if you lose a point you can’t lose 10. I think they evened it out a little but and that was their goal in the fifth game was to not let them (Pinecrest) score more than one or two points at a time.”
Despite the pep talk the third set belonged to the Lady Patriots, 24-15. The beginning of the fourth set appeared to be going the same route as Pinecrest got out to a 4-0 lead. Back-to-back aces by Quick jump started the Lady Scots to a wild, nail-biting fourth set.
A kill by Luquer to put the Lady Scots up 15-11 send the crowd into an uproar. The energy level continued to escalate as Pinecrest closed the gap to two point, 18-16 before a kill by Pegues again brought the crowd to their feet.
A serve into the net by Pinecrest sealed the Lady Scots fourth set win, 25-23 to force the fifth and final set.
“My girls started out a little rough and I was worried because it was anyone’s match,” Wheelers aid. “We thankfully came out on top and I think we earned it.”
The Lady Scots are back in action tonight with a trip to Lumberton before heading to Terry Sanford on Wednesday for a non-conference match up. The Lady Scots finish the week at home with a huge SAC-8 game against Richmond. All three games are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.