By Andres Reyes
Senior Staff Writer
The Brookhaven College Lady Bears volleyball team came into a game against the Panola College Fillies on Sept. 19 with a record of 10-6.
The one-day, five-game series was a back-and-forth affair, but Panola College stole the overall victory of three out five games.Brookhaven took the victories in the first and third game, although Panola closed in on the lead in both matches. “We had to bring our confidence together as a team,” Bears outside hitter Alexis Garner said.
The Bears came out of the gate strong, scoring the first 4 points of the match, and controlled most of the first game. Outside hitter Kelsey Rogers had her hand in defensive and offensive plays as she scored and saved a point in the beginning sequences.
As Panola was looking to cut into Brookhaven’s lead, outside hitter Alexis Garner spiked a ball through two defending players to score a point for the Bears, increasing Brookhaven’s lead 8-4.
Outside hitter Megan Crown was all over the court as well, making hits that saved possession before hitting a popping spike that gave the Bears a point and made the score 11-5. Outside hitter Erin Terry was looking to send down a hard hit, but Panola made a save, giving their team a point. The score was 17-13, with Brookhaven leading.
A long sequence broke out and players flew everywhere. Crown and libero Mathis Popelsky made key defensive plays that kept the game alive. Brookhaven got the point and then another off of a net violation, cushioning their lead to 9-13.
Panola inched closer, but the Lady Bears held the lead, 20-17. Panola came in for a kill spike, but Terry jumped up and blocked the hit, giving the Bears a point, making the score 21-17.
Panola College came as close as 1 point away from tying the game at 23-22, but Garner made stops and Brookhaven scored, making the score 24-22. It was game point, and Panola was trying aggressively to get points on the board, but Terry would not allow it, saving points twice in the sequence.
Rogers anticipated an attack and made an early jump but still hit the ball, giving Brookhaven a chance to score. The Lady Bears won the first game, 25-22.
Game 2 was a closer battle. There was not a lead of more than 2 points during the game. The Bears were down 22-24 when Rogers hit a hard spike, giving the Bears life after game point was in Panola’s hands. A timeout was called, filling the gymnasium with suspense. Panola hit a brutal spike shortly after. The Lady Bears reached for the save, but the ball ricocheted out of bounds, giving Panola the victory.
“We played a very competitive match against a very good Division 1 program,” head coach Jason Hopkins said. “I feel like our sophomores really stepped up their game this weekend.”
After the Bears took Game 3, Panola started Game 4 with a 5-0 lead. Terry spiked every ball she hit and scored multiple points during all of the matches. Her spikes skipped past players and caused chaos on the Fillies’ court. The points kept Brookhaven in the game until the very end. Panola won Game 4, 25-20, and headed into the fifth and final game.
“The difference in the set losses was our serve and serve receive game,” Hopkins said. “We had a few serving errors at crucial times and had some serve receive problems toward the end of the match.”
In Game 5, the Lady Bears kept the game close. Points and spikes were traded until Panola ran away with the game. Brookhaven stopped many attacks but couldn’t pry the win away.
Panola won the series 3-2, handing Brookhaven their seventh loss of the young season. The Lady Bears go into conference play on Sept. 22 with a 10-7 record.