When your back is against the wall, you either win or go home.
For the Rowan County Lady Vikings, choosing the former was the plan of action last Thursday night as it erased a 2-0 deficit at home to shock Russell, 3-2.
After letting two potential wins slip through their fingers in the first two matches, losing both 25-23, the Lady Vikings responded in a big way.
With setter McKayla Ledford serving, Rowan County kicked off a do-or-die third game with a bang, capitalizing on numerous spikes at the front of the net to take an early 6-1 lead, including several by hitters Faith Conn and senior Jessica Mullins.
With numerous years of championship experience, the Lady Devils did not allow a blowout, tying the game at nine apiece before Rowan responded with a 10-1 run to take a commanding 19-10 lead.
Despite the big lead, Rowan found itself in a potentially devastating comeback by Russell. At 24-22 in favor of the home team, a botched Russell served out of bounds kept the Lady Vikings alive, to give them the 25-22 win.
Rowan County Head Coach Mike Walters talked about his girls’ heart and determination to stay alive in the third match.
“I am very proud of the way they responded in that third match,” Walters said. “We kind of let those first two games slip through our fingers and for a minute there I thought that was going to happen in that third game. But, they showed tremendous pride, and that allowed us keep playing.”
Taking game four 25-12, the girls in green had somehow put themselves in a position to come out on top after facing the potential shutout.
A big part of the fourth game blowout was Mullins play in front of the net, blocking many of the spike attempts by Russell’s big hitters.
Mullins commented on her big night.
“I was just happy to see us have a chance to win the set,” Mullins said. “This group is very cohesive and early on they played very aggressively on offense. We started to figure out what they were doing and we made some adjustments. It was a great win for us.”
Back and forth continued to be the trend for the final match of the night, until Rowan County began the pull away process to take a 13-11 lead.
After a nice serve by Conn gave the Lady Vikes a 14-11 lead, Russell was saved the following serve, when it sailed over the right boundary.
The game point turned out to be a dandy, as a frenetic pace of exchange took place before Rowan claimed victory on a Russell return that failed to stay in play.
Walters said the dramatic win was one that could serve as a big confidence builder for his team.
“It’s a great feeling, when you can win a game in that manner,” Walters said. “I was really questioning whether it was a good idea to schedule a team like Russell so early in the season, but the girls responded. I feel that this could serve as springboard for us to build on for the rest of the season.”
The Lady Vikings now travel to neighboring Morgan County for a matchup with its district rivals.
There will be more on this game in Friday’s edition of The Morehead News.
Grant Stevens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 784-4116.