By Kimberly Smith
Things didn’t look good for Union Grove’s Lady Lion volleyball team at the beginning of Monday’s bi-district playoff match against the Timpson Bears. Timpson’s first eight points came from UG errors, including two missed serves.
The Lady Lions regained serve after freshman Sarah Prince tipped the ball into a Timpson gap, and senior Samantha Coleman scored on a rollshot. Brady Colby took the line and scored four points before the Bears caught UG watching and scored two. When Coleman took over serve, she scored seven consecutive points on Timpson errors and an Analeice Jones tip, but then failure to call the ball cost the girls the serve. Every time the UG girls gained momentum, miscommunications, out-of-bounds kill-attempts, and Timpson dumps to the unguarded middle cost the Lady Lions valuable points, allowing Timpson to win the first game 25-23.
Game two started with another serving streak from Colby that included an Avery Brooks kill. A few Timpson errors later, UG was up 5-9, but Timpson found the hole twice in a row with no move to fill it from the Lady Lions. The teams took turns adding points to the board until the score reached 14-14. Coleman put in two kills and Jones used a Timpson block to score, but UG couldn’t get past Timpson’s scrappy defense. Game two ended 25-17 Timpson.
The third game stayed close throughout, with the teams trading errors until the score reached 6-6. Then UG’s Brooks kicked into high gear, tipped the ball into a gap and served an ace. Jones blocked a Timpson kill attempt and slammed a kill for herself. Two more kills from Brooks and two service points from Gracie Winn put the Lady Lions up 18-17. Alison Yohn scored on a tip, and Coleman earned another kill. Tension built as the teams scored back and forth, but when the score hit 23-23, the Lady Lions decided they weren’t done yet. Two Timpson errors later, Union Grove won their first game of the match 25-23.
The momentum had swung, and the gym got loud. The Lady Lions had a new fire in game four and immediately broke Timpson’s serve with a Jones kill. Jones tipped to a Timpson gap and Brooks earned a kill before the ball hit the floor on Union Grove’s side. Errors cost UG a few points before Brooks racked up another kill and Yohn scored on a tip. Winn scored a service point when Jones used a Timpson block. Brooks put in two more kills and took over serve to score an ace and a Timpson error. A run in Timpson’s favor took the score from 23-16 to 23-22, but the Lady Lions had come to fight. Brooks pushed the ball to an empty corner, and UG finished game four 25-22.
With the season on the line, both teams wanted the game-five win, but Coach Molly Mackey knew her team had the momentum. Timpson errors and a Brooks kill put the score at 3-6 before the teams once again battled for each point. Timpson’s fast defense picked up tough plays, but, before the team could recover, Yohn found a gap. Brooks aced a serve and scored on a shoot to the corner before using a Timpson block attempt to score the match point.
The Lady Lions pulled off a comeback victory, earning the bi-district title and the chance to fight again. The girls now advance to area competition — date and location to be determined — and must prepare to play the winner of the Detroit v. North Hopkins match. To win another round, they’ll need to learn to fill the center-court gap and bring tonight’s second-half fire to their full match.
In round one, Brooks added 15 kills, 17 digs, and four aces to this season’s collection of stats. Coleman earned eight kills and 14 digs. Senior Sydney Chamberlain had 19 digs, and setter Colby 38 assists and three aces. Jones put in 10 kills, five digs, and three blocks; Winn earned three blocks, eight digs, and four kills; and Yohn had five kills and one block.