Lady Pat volleyball team topped by S-western in region semis

Published 1:56 pm Thursday, October 25, 2018

STANFORD — The Lincoln County volleyball team saw one of the best seasons in school history come to an end as the Lady Patriots lost 3-0 to Southwestern Wednesday in the 12th Region Volleyball Tournament semifinal match at the J.C. Eddleman Gymnasium at LCHS.

Southwestern knocked Lincoln out of contention for the regional title with a 25-19, 25-16, 25-19 win.

“Southwestern was what we expected,” Lincoln coach Samantha Torres said. “We knew it would be a tough match. We played them over at Southwestern about midway through the season and they beat us pretty handily. So, to come out tonight and to play them as tight as we did and to be leading as much as we did that shows a lot of progress from that early in the season until now.”

The Lincoln mentor said that the season-ending loss hurt a little more than past losses as she watched athletes who have been with the program since she took over in 2015 play their final match. The Lady Patriots, who went 45-15 the last two seasons, will lose a bulk of its roster to graduation, with eight senior athletes – Haley Bowen, Tabitha Cain, Hannah Jacobs, Ashlyn Jarman, Taryn Johnson, Savanna Smith, Jasmine Whited and Jessie Wilson – seeing their high school volleyball career’s end in the semifinal loss.

“It hurts. It really does,” said Torres. “The girls that are graduating have been with me since they were eighth-graders and they have been playing varsity since they were freshmen, so it’s hard. They’ve been here the whole time and now they’ll be gone. I wish we could have taken it a little further.”

Lincoln (23-7) challenged Southwestern (26-13) to a tight first set, despite trailing the entire way. The Lady Patriots were within 12-13, 15-16 and 18-20 late before the Lady Warriors closed on a 5-1 run to take the opening set.

The Lady Patriots led in set two, but the Lady Warriors were never far behind. Lincoln was up 7-6 when Southwestern made its move, scoring six unanswered points to go on top 12-7. The Lady Warriors never trailed again, leading by as many as nine points before taking the second set 25-16.

Southwestern jumped on Lincoln quickly in the third set, exploding out to a 6-0 lead. Lincoln would rally, though, with Savanna Smith, who finished with two aces, serving up five straight points to tie the game at 8-all.

The game was tied again at 9-9 before Lincoln posted its first lead of the set, 10-9. The Lady Patriots led by as many as 14-11 before the Lady Warriors broke on a 7-0 run to move back on top 18-14. Southwestern would go on to extend the run to 14-4 to take the set and the match to advance to the championship match with Wayne County.

“You always want to win, so it’s a little heartbreaking, but I definitely commend my own players for not getting down,” Torres said of Lincoln’s strong finish. “Because when you’re playing a team like Southwestern, who’s just hammering the ball and there’s nothing you can do because it’s all vertical, hitting it straight down. So, it’s really hard to stay focused and mentally ready and have that fight. But they did a really nice job of keeping that fire and not letting down.”

“Overall, we’ve had a lot of progress this season, especially with our mental toughness. To see that growth makes it (loss) a little bit more easier to take.”

Taryn Johnson had 11 kills and one block for Lincoln, Savanna Smith added five kills and six blocks to her two aces, Peyton Griffin had two kills and two assists, Jasmine Whited had 17 assists and Kasie Mullins had three blocks.