MURRAY – On a night when the Murray High Volleyball Tigers wanted revenge so bad from two earlier-season losses to the Mayfield Cardinals, they let it slip through their fingers in the fourth set with only three points to go.
In the 1st set, the Cardinals (10-7) came out and had control of the match, taking the opener 25-20, behind the power of sophomore Avery Nanney. They were determined to take the fight to the Tigers (6-7) and end the night early.
Murray wasn’t having it, however. Tiger senior setter Erin Faulkner left the game early in the 2nd set with a head injury and the Tigers proceeded to rally and pick up their intensity to stay in the match. Down 9-5, behind the serving of senior Caroline Koenig, they would tie the score at nine apiece, and eventually take the set 25-21. Murray senior middle-hitter Farris Howard and senior outside hitter Jade Oakley dominated the set to spark the Tigers, with their play at the net. Good things happened when they were up front, with Howard’s power and Oakley’s crafty tips over the net, and had the Cardinals reeling.
“I just told them not to give up and to keep fighting,” said Murray Head Coach Jennifer Westbrook. “We just focused in on the little things and the mental errors and we’d be able to play right with them. Last time we played Mayfield Faulkner went down with an injury, and again tonight, we had a couple other seniors that turned it on and stepped up.”
They wouldn’t let up either. Murray came out with a fiery intensity in the 3rd set, never really letting Mayfield keep up, leading by as much as nine points, 23-14. They seemed to be in complete control at that point, leading the match 2-1.
Murray had a 22-18 lead in the 4th, and the Tigers were on the edge of sending the visitors home but then the Cardinals reeled off seven straight points after a crucial Mayfield timeout. The whole momentum in the match seemed to shift at that point. The Cardinals ultimately captured the set 25-22 with an impressive desire to stay alive by denying everything that Murray could send over the net. Potential kill after kill was thwarted by the Mayfield defense.
The tiebreaking final set was all Mayfield, as they took leads of 5-1 and 7-2, until Westbrook called timeout, but Mayfield didn’t let off the gas. The Cardinals finished Murray off 15-6.
“I just believe we ran out of fight,” said Westbrook. “We’ve got to learn to fight all the way through the end. We fought the middle, but had so many missed serves that just kind of mentally broke us down. If we can focus on those little mental things, we’ll be able to play with teams like Mayfield and hopefully come out on the other side.”
For the Tigers, Howard had 12 kills with seven aces, Oakley had 10 kills with three aces, junior middle-hitter Alyssa Daughrity had nine kills with three blocks, and senior Kynzlee Fox had an impressive seven digs with most of those coming late as she tried to keep Murray in the match.
Murray gets a chance to get back on the court to erase the bad taste of this loss and rematch with a dangerous Ballard Memorial (14-2) team that hasn’t lost a set in their last five matches, which includes a 2-0 win over the Tigers last week in the 1st Region All “A” Classic Monday night.