The Lady Spartans (8-10, 5-1) battled back from deficits in the second and third sets and finished off the fifth set with a 7-1 scoring run to take a 3-2 win over Rye Cove (10-6, 5-1) on Tuesday night.
ALL KNOTTED UP
The 20-25, 25-22, 25-19, 23-25, 15-9 win moved Eastside into a first-place tie with Rye Cove in the district standings.
Both teams have four Cumberland matches remaining in the regular season. If as expected they both win them all, they will finish as co-champions and meet in a playoff to determine the district’s automatic bid into the Region 1D tournament.
The Lady Spartans and Lady Eagles were co-champions in 2013. Rye Cove has won the past four district championships.
“We would like to dethrone them, but they’re not just going to give it up. They’re a good team and they’re going to play hard to keep it,” said Eastside coach Brianne Bailey.
Bailey said there was no real secret behind Tuesday night’s win.
“We just played hard,” she said. “I was really worried after the first set. I got onto them a little bit and they responded. They played as a team tonight. It was a good all-around team effort.”
Anna Whited shone brightly for Eastside both on the offensive and defensive ends. Whited finished with 21 kills and 30 digs to lead her team in most categories.
Whited said she battled a case of nerves for the entire match.
“I think I was more nervous going into the fifth set than going into the first set,” Whited said.
Reiley McCoy added 17 kills for Eastside, Eliza Johnson had 44 assists and Kacie Jones finished with 28 digs.
Rye Cove coach Greg Gilliam said his Lady Eagles struggled with consistency.
“We never did seem to get relaxed and they did at times,” Gilliam said. “We just did not match up with their passing. We just were a little off all night.”
Senior Callie Richardson finished with 29 kills and 22 digs for Rye Cove. Maddison Miller had 10 kills, Emily Bishop totaled 45 assists and Abby Vicars added 20 digs.
After exchanging wins in the first four sets, the team battled evenly in the fifth.
The Lady Spartans went up 9-8 on a kill from Whited then added more points on Rye Cove return errors. Eastside outscored the Lady Eagles 2-1 the rest of the way to seal the victory.
Eastside is in nondistrict action Wednesday against Letcher County Central, Ky. Rye Cove hosts Class 2 Lee High on Thursday.