MURRAY — A comprehensive team effort and tremendous hustle propelled the Murray High Lady Tigers to a huge finish to put away the Crittenden County Lady Rockets in the fourth and final set last night in Taylor Gymnasium. They started the conclusive set with 6-0 run and never looked back, finishing 25-7 in dominating fashion for a 3-1 victory (21-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-7).
When asked what the difference was from last year’s loss in both games against the Rockets, second-year head coach Jennifer Westbrook said, “This year we were focused and the girls fought with everything that they had, and they stayed mentally focused on the court. We worked a lot on that, as well as some other areas, and right now we’re working on what’s happening on our side of the court, and letting everything else in the gym be not an issue.”
The evening looked bleak at first when Crittenden County took the first set 25-21, reminiscent of how the Rockets defeated the Lady Tigers (2-0) last year in both meetings. A lengthy server-error delay and subsequent point adjustment flipped the score from a 4-1 visitor lead to a 2-1 home team advantage instantaneously at the start of the opening set, however Crittenden regained the lead at 11-10 and never looked back en route to a 25-21 set win.
In the second set Crittenden County seemed to pull away twice, but was the Lady Tigers countered with rallies consisting of great play from the pair of middle-hitters junior Farris Howard and sophomore Coridia Hood. The Rockets had a hard time all night long with Hood’s height and towering reach at the net.
Two consecutive kills by junior outside-hitter Jade Oakley brought the Tigers back again before the Rockets seemed to be closing out the set with more offense. Murray dug deep again with a key, set-saving, diving dig by senior libero Kawai Olive, and another Hood kill to tie the set and finish the epic comeback. The Tigers won the second set 26-24 in a nail-biter.
The Rockets started strong again in the third but were overwhelmed when senior setter Lila Munsey started yet another Lady Tiger comeback with masterful serving to erase a 13-8 deficit and take the lead 15-14. More back and forth ensued until the Lady Tigers were able to pull away thanks to Oakley and Howard.
Hood led the Tigers with 9 kills on the night, Faulkner led with 11 assists and three aces, and senior Kate Morefield anchored the defense with nine digs.
“We just came out and we were ready to put the game away,” Westbrook said. “They all stayed fired up. Our JV squad was behind us cheering for us and our leaders stepped up and pulled everybody together and everybody was on the same page and working towards the same end goal which was to win no matter what we had to do.” When asked about the key contributors for the evening, Westbrook responded, “I’m proud of all of them. Cory Hood came out with some awesome hits for us, blocks, tips, everything that she did was a great contribution. Erin Faulkner had several good serves and all-around good hustle and really just the whole team contributed tonight. It was no one person tonight, it was everybody.”