By Joel Clinger for Robertson County Connection and Main Street Preps
Thursday night’s thriller between White House and Greenbrier had everything that makes volleyball such an engaging sport.
A dominant start, several failed match points and a dramatic end culminated in a five-set, come-from-behind district win for the Lady Devils.
Greenbrier’s senior night could not have started better. In front of a raucous crowd, the Lady Cats breezed through two sets and were ready to celebrate their two seniors, Ashley Marshall and Caroline Dalton, with a quick, sweeping victory.
The Lady Cats stood one point away from a win, and they would have the opportunity to clinch it six times.
Each time, the Lady Devils rejected their efforts, recovering from a 24-18 deficit, to escape with a 26-24 third-set victory.
White House co-coach Kassie King said her team showed “pure grit.”
“We always tell them never give up on anything, and tonight, they proved they’re not going to give up,” King said. “They’re not just going to let anything happen. They’re going to take ownership over what they’ve worked so hard for.”
Volleyball players are physical athletes, but their toughest task may be to win the game between their ears. The slightest mental lapse could lose a point at any given moment, and they often pile up.
On the volleyball court, it seems the law of inertia remains in place. Once the snowball starts rolling for one team, it takes a Herculean effort to stop it, but the Lady Devils managed to take the momentum and immediately turn it around.
White House flew through the fourth set and jumped out to an early lead in the fifth. Greenbrier staged a five-point comeback of their own to tie the set at 13-13, but it was the Lady Devils’ night, as they won the next two points to clinch the victory.
The Greenbrier student section has been faithful to the team all season, but there was extra energy in the gym Thursday.
“I think that’s why we had a slow start,” WHHS co-coach Dani Villafana said. “They had to get used to the environment to be able to produce.”
After falling down 0-2, White House senior Megan Thompson was determined to not let the fans get the best of the night.
“I was like, oh my goodness, we cannot let them beat us because their student section, their student section is crazy,” Thompson said. “I’m not losing to that. We need to pull a win, and we just worked as a team these last three sets.
The Lady Devils defied the highest of odds after staring a loss directly in the face. They are now 2-2 in the district and can improve their playoff seeding with a strong finish.
On the other side of the net, only disappointment remained.
“It was like we were a big balloon, and once that first deflation started, it killed our energy,” said Greenbrier head coach Tori Scherer. “The energy is what made [sets] one and two the way (they were). We played extremely well in [sets] one and two, but it was because of the energy.
“They were super up and excited about every point, and in reality that is hard to maintain. When we got in the third and that little bit of air came out, it just kept going. It’s hard to get it back after that.”
The sense of what could have been is familiar for the Lady Cats. Two weeks prior, they fell 15-13 in the fifth set to district-leading White House Heritage.
Despite being locked in the fourth and lowest spot in the district standings, the Lady Cats have competed with their opponents, and two more points could be all they need to advance.
“It gives you hope going into districts,” Scherer said. “It doesn’t matter who we get in the bracket (because) we can play with everybody… We have proven we can play with all of them. We’ve just got to finish it.”
Thursday’s game was a dream: a thrilling adventure for one team, a nightmare for the other.