Photo by James Parrish
The D2-5 district champion Brady Lady Eagles.
Brady outfought Wallace in four sets on Thursday night to win the district title and qualify for the state tournament for the second straight year at the McGahan Activities Center.
Brady coach Lynne Johnson said that her team rolled with the punches to hold off Wallace 25-22, 25-10, 23-25, 25-15 and make it back to state.
"We weren't playing our best ball and Wallace played well," said Johnson. "We just kept picking away at it. It was up and down but the girls did what they had to do."
Wallace (10-12) surprised the Eagles in the first set by jumping out to a 9-1 lead with Sara Hubbard serving for eight straight points.
Brady (23-7) played better to get within around three, four, five points of Wallace toward the end.
After a missed serve by Abbey Rohde of Wallace, Brady libero Carissa Rayburn got the serve with her team down 22-18.
The first point came on a net violation by the Wildcats. Then Molly Hannon made a block in the middle on Chelsea Sowle to bring the Lady Eagles to within two.
Wallace committed another net violation and then Valerie Most made a kill on the left side to tie it up at 22.
Brady then took the lead when Most spiked another one down from the same spot. Then Hannon made a kill to give the Eagles setpoint and Rayburn completed the rally on the next play with an ace.
"Carissa is a solid player," Johnson said. "She's mentally strong and she can put it where she wants it. She was switching speeds and location on her serve. She's a great leader for us."
The Lady Eagles dominated the next set. Madison Elliott served for seven straight points to give Brady a 12-3 lead and Wallace never got back in it after that.
"The momentum from the first set carried Brady into the second set," said Wallace coach Elizabeth Strand. "We just didn't have it in the second set."
The third set was closer but the Eagles were poised for a sweep with a 23-20 lead after Sowle served the ball out of bounds.
But Brady committed four straight hitting errors with Anna Griffiths serving to give the Lady Wildcats their first setpoint of the evening. Christina Daniels tipped one down from the middle to send the match to a fourth set.
The momentum seemingly shifted toward Wallace in the beginning of the fourth set. The Wildcats led 6-1 on a kill by Katelyn Melton that followed an ace from Hubbard.
But the Eagles roared back to take an 11-9 lead after an ace by Rayburn and Brady never trailed again from that point, leading as much as 20-11 before ending it in four.
"In the third set, we let down toward the end and in the fourth set, we picked ourselves up one point at a time and kept Wallace on their heels," Johnson said.
There were too many missed opportunities for Wallace. If they close out the first set better, it might have changed the outcome. But Strand said that her team kept battling the whole way.
"In the first set, if we would have finished, we would have had more momentum," said Strand. "In the fourth set, the girls kept trying even when things weren't going their way. Brady plays good defense. They're an excellent team and they made plays when they had to."