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Averett volleyball falls in heartbreaking final - Chatham Star Tribune: Sports

Averett volleyball falls in heartbreaking final

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Posted: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 9:56 am | Updated: 10:02 am, Wed Nov 8, 2017.

The Cougars had a 2-0 lead in sets on Saturday in a heartbreaking 3-2 (25-13, 25-17, 22-25, 26-28, 10-15) loss in the USA South Conference Volleyball Championship. The Cougars finished their season with a record of 32-4.

Things started strong for Averett on Thursday who dominated the quarterfinal game against Methodist 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-12). The Cougars fell behind 3-1 in the first set of that game, but took a 4-3 lead with three straight points.

The two teams dueled it out until Averett came on top 25-23 in the first set, and that was the closest that Methodist would get all night. Senior right side Lynsey Corriher led the team in that game with 13 kills, and senior outside hitter Hannah Shields had 12. Sophomore right side Brianna Williams managed 10 for Averett.

In both sets two and three, Averett quickly took the advantage over Methodist to deny them any chance of being able to keep up. The Cougars made quick work of it in the sweep.

Friday’s semifinal match against Maryville College was a similar story, but Maryville put up a little tougher of a fight in Averett’s 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-23) victory. Williams led the team in that victory with 10 kills while Shields managed nine.

The first set was tied at 13-13 before the Cougars ran away with the advantage on a 12-5 run. In the second set, Averett built up to a 23-16 advantage, and the two teams dueled over the final few points but Averett still took a 2-0 set lead with the 25-19 win.

In the final set, Maryville took a 5-1 lead early. Later in the set the Cougars were able to catch back up and an attack error by Maryville’s freshman outside hitter Rhianna Tyldesley tied the score for Averett at 15-15.

The final set of this game was a battle but eventually Averett had a 24-23 lead and another attack error from Maryville’s freshman middle blocker Lauren Epinal advanced the Cougars to the championship.

On Saturday, the loss to Covenant College gave the Cougars a haunting reminder of last year. After two sets, Averett had a solid advantage over the Scots and everything was going their way.

In the first set the game as tied at 10-10 before the Cougars went on an 11-1 run. Averett quickly ended that set with a 25-13 win. In the second set, Averett again managed to build the lead to a 21-11 advantage, and while Covenant gave a little more of a battle offensively, the Cougars still won it 25-17.

This however, is when the game took a turn for the worse for the Cougars.

“Covenant never gave up,” Averett Head Coach Danny Miller said. “They kept fighting, competing and working hard. I think we made a few too many mistakes.”

Both the third and fourth sets of this game came down to the wire. The score in set three was 18-18 before Covenant edged their way ahead, and managed to reach 25 first. In the fourth set, the score was tied at 24-24, and Averett had a chance win it after senior outside hitter Sarah Smoot’s kill put the Cougars up by one. Sadly, it didn’t go that way when Covenant went on a 4-1 run to end set four with a 28-26 advantage, forcing a fifth match.

“In the third set I think we became a little too tentative,” Miller said. “I think instead of being aggressive, taking our swings and hammering the ball, we started to just try to survive.”

Covenant jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the fifth set and although the Cougars were able to tie the score up at 8-8, they followed that with two straight service errors, and Covenant eventually came out on top with a 15-10 victory to claim the USA South Crown with a 3-2 comeback win over Averett.

Shields managed 22 kills in that game as well as 17 digs and Smoot had 13 kills for Averett. Corriher had seven kills for Averett and junior defensive specialist Emily Stanley led the team in digs with 23.

“They never lost belief that they could come back,” Miller said. “I think the whole time in those last three sets we were just kind of on our heals and worried about it.”

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