Lady Raiders pull off epic comeback

Published 8:44 am Wednesday, November 11, 2009

COURTLAND—For two games, the Southampton Academy volleyball team had about enough of Danielle Alley as it could stand. The Timberlake Christian standout was pounding the ball all over the court as the Tornados looked like an easy victor in the quarterfinals of the VISVA Division III state playoffs. But the Lady Raiders rallied to win three straight games and pulled off an epic comeback 7-25, 13-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-9 Tuesday night.

The Lady Raiders (23-1) advance to the semifinal round of the state playoffs in Roanoke at 10 a.m. on Friday against either Broadwater Academy or Grace Christian.

Timberlake came out dominating, particularly Alley, who won 20 of the Lady Tornados first 50 points in games one and two. The shellshocked Lady Raiders were hammered in game one, but played better in game two and led 13-12 after a spike by Lindsay Raulston. But Timberlake scored the final 13 points of the game, including 10 by Alley. Timberlake’s Jessi Foss served all 13 points.

Then something changed. Foss was hardly heard from the rest of the night and Alley got conservative. Southampton Academy improved its serve and was able to rally for a 25-22 victory in game three. The Lady Raiders trailed 11-5 in the game, but behind the strong serving of Beth Waller, put together a 7-point run to take a 16-14 lead on a spike by Raulston.

“The girls were down because of serving and they just decided that they had to pick it up,” said Southampton Academy head coach Terry Bell. “The serves were not working and our aces were not there and they knew they would have to make it work.”

Although game three was close, SA never trailed after taking the 16-14 lead.

In game four, SA again fell behind and did not serve as well. Despite losing six service points, the Lady Raiders held it together in the see-saw battle.

Timberlake tied the match at 22-22 on a tip by Alley. But Alley then hit a ball into the net and Forrest Best connected on a spike to put the Lady Raiders up 24-22.

Timberlake scored again on a spike by Alley that appeared out. Then, Timberlake’s Kay Lee Bryant knocked one into the net to give SA the 25-23 win.

It was another tight battle in game five, but tough serving by Catherine Glover helped pull it out. Trailing 9-8, SA scored the final six points of the game, including two spikes by Best and the final three points on hot serves by Glover, to pull off the huge comeback.

“The girls are very determined. They wanted it. That’s it.” Bell said.

Raulston finished the match with 21 kills and Best added 14 kills.