VOLLEYBALL: Wolverines survive challenge from Lions, win five-set battle
Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Polk County volleyball coach Molly Hill wanted to see some intensity, and she wanted to send a message.
Trailing Asheville Christian 1-0 on Monday after a game in which her Wolverines let a lead slip away, Hill challenged them in the break between games.
Polk County blew out the Lions in games two and three, faltered in the fourth, then bounced back with a strong fifth game to take a 3-2 thriller.
“We just lost our focus and our momentum and when things started to go south we just folded,” Hill said. “I told them that I don’t care if we get down a few points or get stuck in serve receive, it’s how you manage that and how we come back from that. I told them that should never happen.
“We had a six-point lead and we let it go. I wanted them to stay focused. I wanted them to go into the next game and prove a point, and I feel like they did that.”
Polk County built a big lead in game one, going up 16-10 on Morgan Yoder’s kill, and looked poised to put the game away. However, the Lions came roaring back to take a 21-19 lead, setting up a back-and-forth battle down the stretch that ended in a 26-24 Asheville Christian advantage.
Then came Hill’s challenge, and two Wolverine blowouts. They raced out to an 11-5 lead in game two, eventually led 20-10, and put the game away 25-15 on Kylie Lewis’ kill. In game three they were even more dominant, winning 25-10, ending it with a kill by Mia Bradley.
In game four, though, the early struggles that Hill saw came up again. This time the Lions raced out to a big lead, pushing their advantage to 20-10 and taking a 25-12 victory.
“We kind of got challenged again a little bit, and we let it get in our heads,” Hill said.
No problem. The Wolverines adjusted again.
Polk County stormed out to an 8-2 lead in the deciding game and cruised to a 15-10 victory. In the deciding frame, the points came from all over the floor. Yoder, Sophia Overholt, Bradley, Elena Carroll, and Ada Kelley all had kills, and Bradley added an ace.
“They had a point to prove, and I feel like they did it,” Hill said. “We were pretty much in control that whole game. We were serving well, passing well, hitting well, and it’s kind of like all the pieces just came together. I challenged our front row that when they got a perfect pass, they had to execute. I thought they did that well.
“In that fifth set, everybody stepped up. Sophia, especially, challenged her teammates to have fun and come together and be loud and just be excited for each other. You play better when you do that, and it was fun.”