LAURINBURG — The Lady Scots had a hair raising start to their Sandhills Conference Tournament journey hosting a formitable Hoke County team on Monday.
The Lady Scots and the Lady Bucks went five games to determine a winner as the momentum shifted back and forth from one team to the other.
A block by sophomore Skyler York sealed a first set victory for the Lady Scots, 25-22 before Hoke came roaring back in the second set to pick up a 25-21 win.
The third set saw the Lady Scots get themselves into an 0-11 hole as Hoke’s Natalie Hollingsworth’s serve gave them fits. One serve hit senior Macie Gibson so hard it spun her around and hitting errors allowing Hoke to take a gigantic lead.
Serve-receive had not been an issue for the Lady Scots thus far this season, but head coach Mallary Wheeler said after Monday’s game it will certainly be something they work on.
“Typically serve receive hasn’t been a huge issue,” she said. “Our problem has been over passing the ball because we would have defenders not charging the net, defenders ready to dig and blockers ready to block the over pass. But until (tonight) serve-receive hasn’t been a major factor.”
The Lady Scots slowly worked their way back into the third set with the help of sophomore Abby Quick from behind the line. The Lady Scots went on a 6-0 run to make it a 6-11 match with Hoke still leading. Heads up defensive plays by senior Kandon Luquer tied the third set at 16-16 — the set would see four more ties before a winner was decided.
Three kills into the net by the Lady Scots forced Wheeler to call a time out as Hoke took a one-point lead, 23-22. Following the time out, the officials said the Lady Scots were under the net as they tried valiantly to return the ball. The Lady Scots held strong, but a final kill by Hoke gave the Lady Bucks the 26-24 win in the third set.
“I definitely expected it to be a fight, I know Hoke is a team that plays with a lot of hear, but to come out in game three and be down 11-0 was ridiculous,” Wheeler said. “I’m glad we stayed tough and fought back after that 11-0 deficit and fought back to eventually win the match.”
The Lady Scots showed their fight in the must-win fourth match, taking an early 6-3 lead with aces by Luquer. After getting the lead, the Lady Scots didn’t give it up as they cruised to 25-15 fourth-set victory. The match ended with an ace by Quick.
“Serving was awesome Kandon, Abby and Mason (Roberts) were outstanding,” said Wheeler. “It’s always comforting when our good servers go back there.”
Luquer started the fifth set off with back-to-back aces before Quick took a turn behind the line to get two aces of her own. A kill by freshman Carleigh Carter gave the Lady Scots an 8-2 lead. Hoke’s Diamond Holmes was called for delay of game during her serve so the side switched over the Lady Scots. An ace by senior Mason Roberts gave the Lady Scots a five-point lead, 10-5.
A kill out of bounds and two double hits by the Lady Scots kept Hoke in the game and made it an 11-8 Lady Scots lead. The Lady Bucks called a time out trailing 13-8 before Luquer finished off the game for her team. The senior had a kill and the match winning ace to give the Lady Scots the 15-9 win.
The victory was a bit of a redemption match as the Lady Scots lost to Hoke in Raeford at the end of last month in 3-1. Redemption will make its way around one more time for the Lady Scots as they try to knock off undefeated Richmond for a chance to play in the conference championship.
“When I found out we were playing Hoke, that was one redemption match and I knew if we won we would play Richmond and it’s another second chance. This is our second chance that we didn’t have before seeding on Sunday. I’m excited and I hope that it’s a different result,” said Wheeler. “I hope the girls fight and give Richmond a run for their money and beat them.”
The Lady Scots traveled to Rockingham on Tuesday to take on the Lady Raiders in the second round of the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament. The championship match will be played tonight at 6 p.m. at whichever team was seeded higher.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.