Since being put out by Cedar Bluff in the semifinals of the Cherokee County Tournament over a week ago, the Lady Panthers have now won their last six matches, including Tuesday night’s sweep of Class 2A, No. 6 Sand Rock and Class 4A Hokes Bluff on Senior Night for Jacqueline Haney.
The Lady Panthers (24-16) improved to 11-1 at home by defeating Sand Rock (29-7) in two games 25-19, 25-20. They went on to claim a 25-12, 25-12 victory over Hokes Bluff in the nightcap.
“They really wanted this for their lone senior,” Spring Garden coach Ben Carroll said. “They’ve been talking since we beat Collinsville that tonight was her night. They wanted it for her, and they really fought hard to let her go out with a win.”
Following the Hokes Bluff match, Carroll presented Haney with a game ball. Carroll said Haney earned it.
“She’s never beaten Sand Rock. She’s never beaten Centre. She’s never beaten Gaston. That’s something she’ll always remember her senior year – doing things she’s never done before. That’s special to me as a coach and that’s special to her as a player,” Carroll said.
Haney had two of her best performances of the season Tuesday. She posted eight digs, five assists and two aces against Sand Rock. Haney followed that up with six digs, three assists and four aces against Hokes Bluff.
In the win over Sand Rock, Haley Motes had eight kills, six digs and two aces. Dallas Smith managed eight kills, an ace and a block. Darby Bryant contributed nine digs, 11 assists and an ace. Madison Sides came away with nine digs, four kills and a block. Emory Reedy finished with five digs and a kill.
Against Hokes Bluff, Motes managed six kills, six digs and an ace. Sides added six digs, five kills and an ace. Smith posted four blocks and three kills. Bryant came away with six assists and four digs. Maddy Micha finished with a pair of aces.
Sand Rock rebounded from its loss to the Lady Panthers with a 26-28, 25-14, 15-7 victory over Hokes Bluff.
For the day, Madison Smith and Amber Ashley both had 16 kills and 15 digs. Ashley Norris added 41 assists. Kelsey Hayes had 18 digs.
Sand Rock coach Lisa Bates wasn’t pleased with how her team began the day against Spring Garden.
“Spring Garden just wanted it more than we did,” she said. “They had fire and we did not. We did not play Sand Rock volleyball today.”
Carroll said he’s been begging his players for consistent play in back-to-back matches all season. He felt the Lady Panthers delivered on Tuesday. He also feels his team is peaking at the right time.
“Beating Sand Rock, I think hands down they’re an Elite 8 team,” Carroll said. “We started strong. We blocked a few, dug a few balls up, and they kind of got out of their rhythm.
“I think from there, we kind of intensified. We started jumping better. We started setting better. We started hitting better. We were moving our feet on the back row a lot better. We had a big crowd, and that helped us as well. That just gave us some confidence that if we put our mind to it, and if we play the volleyball Spring Garden can play, we can do something special.”
Both Sand Rock and Spring Garden gear up for their respective area tournaments with a final tune up on Saturday. Sand Rock takes part in the Cedar Bluff tournament, while Spring Garden plays in the White Plains tournament.