By Marilyn Velazquez
The Brookhaven College volleyball team suffered another loss in their season against the Panola Fillies, who took a 3-0 victory Oct. 1 in Bear country.
“We were dead out there,” Lady Bear Ashton Blackburn said.
The Panola Fillies galloped into the sunset, putting the Lady Bears into a deeper deficit and making their record 7-16.
(19-25) The Lady Bears kept their pace in sync with the Fillies with a solid defense that kept their spirits and communication high. Setter Teresa Flores came in with the assist as outside hitter Ashton Blackburn slammed the kill to give the Lady Bears the first point of the set.
Flores was up for the serve when the Fillies began hollering to distract her. Panola’s defense locked on and Rachel Henderson swooped in with a spike, which made contact with the Lady Bears’ block, throwing the ball out of bounds. The Fillies scored the point, 1-1.
The Lady Bears kept their momentum high but seemed to have their feet stuck in quicksand as Panola’s middle hitter Barbara Sabino dominated the court with kills flashing past the Lady Bears’ heads.
Blackburn continued to feed her teammates points, closing the gap along with Julia Basye with a stuffed block. Two points back to back for the Lady Bears as Panola once again made frivolous mistakes.
The score now 6-10, the Fillies took control of the gym’s energy. The Lady Bears’ defense began to dwindle.
“Cleaning up the serve receive would [have] definitely helped our offense,” Flores said.
A Panola player struck down a harsh spike and stuffed the ball under Sydney Mueller’s chin. Blackburn went in for the save and set it up for libero Selina Griffin, Brookhaven’s defense specialist. Griffin rolled the ball gracefully on the line, causing Panola’s defense to mistake it for out of bounds. However, Brookhaven struck out from a missed serve, giving Panola their final game point to win the first set.
SET 2 (19-25)
The Lady Bears began the second set with a rocky defense making it difficult for the setter to articulate a good assist. A lack of communication brought down
They encouraged each other from the sidelines. “Here we go, this point,” Brookhaven substitutes chanted. Griffin bumped the ball to Flores and set to Blackburn for a roll down the middle. Panola locked down their defense and struck it back over the net. Griffin caught the ball with a one-armed dig.
Vivianna Solis set herself up behind Griffin to set the ball, but the pass was too tight to the net. Blackburn, unable to successfully make the kill, spiked it out of bounds. The point went to the Fillies, 0-1.
The team picked itself up on the next point with a pass-set-spike combo by Solis, Flores and Blackburn. Filly player Morgan Currie slid across the court for a
pancake, but the ball touched the floor before she could execute the dig. Panola gained a 6 point lead, but that did not stop the Lady Bears from celebrating Blackburn’s ace serve.
The Lady Bears were done hibernating.
“Let’s go Bears. Let’s keep it going,” Solis cheered on from the sidelines. However, Fillies outside hitter Jacqueline Da Silva nailed the ball to the ground with force to give Panola another point. The score now was 13-19.
The Lady Bears’ comeback continued as Griffin soared up for a right side kill, throwing Currie to the ground. The Lady Bears’ fluid motion kept the players throughout a series of rallies, closing in the margin to 15-20.
“We saw that we could do this, and we started scoring points,” Flores said as she looked back on the set.
“Finish the game,” Fillies’ coach Amber McCray said with authority.
Fillies front row players Cyrani Butler and Henderson made an impenetrable wall blocking Griffin’s spike. The score was now 19-24 with only one more point to take; Da Silva seized the opportunity to make a kill. The Lady Bears’ dig did not connect, as Panola took another set.
SET 3 (14-25)
Panola began the last set with a straight kill from the back row. The Lady Bears had trouble running the defense as they did in the previous set. Panola took the first five points of the game, 0-5.
As the game continued, Panola came in with a fake by Sabino. She ducked as Ana Oliveria came in from behind and surprise attacked the Lady Bears with the real kill. Panola’s energy from the first set came back, as seen on the scoreboard, 6-14.
As the set went on, the time played was short. Panola’s setter kept feeding Da Silva the ball, giving the Fillies a smooth sailing win.
According to ncjaaregion5.com the Fillies ended the game with 47 kills and 41 assists, 21 of them from Cayman Sutton and 18 from Kinly Carter.
Sabino said her personal accomplishments were closing in on the blocks and doing as her coach told her. The joy of playing the game gave her and her team the motivation to win, she said.
The Lady Bears made 25 kills and 25 assists – all from Flores. According to the NJCAA website, the team ended the game with 66 digs – 14 more than Panola.
“It’s always better to play a better team because it’s more competition,” Flores said.
Blackburn said her takeaway from the game was to do less dwelling on the past and to continue to give it their all.
However, despite the loss against Panola, the Lady Bears went on to win a game against Seminole State that same day.