Lady Cyclones battle through five-set district opener

Published 11:58 pm Monday, October 4, 2021

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In a game that most knew was going to be a free for all with both teams season hanging in the balance, district tournament host Elizabethton took some and gave some before taking a thrilling 3-2 win over Unicoi County to advance to a Tuesday showdown with one-seed Tennessee High at 4:30 pm.

The Lady Blue Devils opened the match by taking the first set 25-21 but the Lady Cyclones rebounded in a tightly battled set two by winning 25-23.

Elizabethton found themselves on the lopsided end of a 25-8 third set that put Unicoi Co. in line to take the match in set four leading 2-1.

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However, the Lady Cyclones dug in and battled their way to a five-point victory in set four to win 25-20 to force a decisive set five with one team surviving to advance to Tuesday’s round and the other putting a wrap on their season.

In a set where the first to 15 winning by two, the Lady Cyclones reached deep within to take the 15-12 victory.

Defensively, the Lady Cyclones were led by Grace Martin with 15 defensive digs while Bailee VanHuss contributed 12 and Jayci Bowers added 10. Senior Mattie Davis wasn’t about to see her career end as she picked up nine digs and collected 19 kills for the contest.

Krisalyn Elliott also played solidly for head coach Leslee Bradley’s squad as she added nine digs and 10 kills. Elizabethton had a total of 70 digs and 47 kills as a team in the five-set thriller.

Jayci Bowers played a huge role doling out 34 assists in the match with Gracie Kirsch coming up huge with three serving aces.

“Tonight’s match was a total team effort,” said Bradley. “Every player gave everything they had for the team.

“We had a lot of different players step up and make crucial plays at crucial moments. Everyone was ready to go for this one. It was a great battle because Unicoi Co. had a lot of players step up as well.

“We were able to make those crucial plays when we needed them.”

The Lady Cyclones will have their hands full with a talented Lady Viking team that went a perfect 10-0 in conference play during the regular season while winning a total of 26 games overall.