Hitching its wagon to the carnival atmosphere of the inaugural Scott County-Great Crossing football game turned out to be a sensational choice for the schools’ volleyball programs.
Tipping off two hours prior to the historic gridiron game next door, volleyball brought an electric atmosphere to the first official event in the history of the Great Crossing gymnasium.
Fans from both schools jammed one side of the spacious arena, including a giant Warhawks’ student section that was worthy of a state tournament basketball game.
They were treated to an intense battle that was perhaps closer than anyone except those in Scott County blue expected.
The Lady Cards, heavy with newcomers after a majority of last year’s varsity players gravitated to the upstart program, raised all eyebrows by breaking out to an early lead and winning the opening set, 25-21.
Games two and three were equally tight, although Great Crossing found a way to win and gradually build its momentum to close out the match by a 25-21, 25-17, 25-18 count.
The event started with a unique measure of unity, as GCHS principal Joy Lusby asked all players, coaches and spectators to sing along with the instrumental recording of the national anthem.
GC junior outside hitter Reagan McLean, who announced her commitment later in the weekend to NCAA Division I Marshall University, put away the initial point in the history of both the budding rivalry and the new building.
Scott County simply refused to budge, helped to an initial 4-3 lead by some long GC serves. Emily Sue Watts’ swat to the far corner and Jayda Harris’ ace gave the Lady Cards’ multi-point advantages of 6-4 and 9-7, respectively.
Back-to-back points by Sam McClanahan countered a run of three straight GC wins to restore SC’s lead.
McLean snuffed out a lengthy SC surge, but the Lady Cards denied her next trip to the net and extended their margin to 16-12.
Another SC ace, this one by Riley Ellison, made it 19-15 and forced a Warhawks’ timeout that paid immediate dividends.
Grace Brooker delivered a loud kill out of the huddle. Later, another McLean spike trimmed the gap to 21-20.
SC saw out the set, however, capped by a tip from Treynce Kenney after GC fought off one set point.
The Lady Cards had opportunities to fashion a two-game lead in the best-of-five format, although it didn’t look that way early in the second stanza.
McLean put away an assist from Annie Pearson to make it a 7-3 Warhawk lead out of the gate. Pearson flicked one over the net and extended that margin to 10-3.
Scott County bounced all the way back, buoyed in part by a big block from Jessica McClain and a kill from Emily Rose, to claim a 16-15 edge.
Key serves by Ryann Thomas and a put-away from Jasmine Koonce gave GC four consecutive points in reply, and Brooker and McLean were outstanding at net to close out the stanza and level the match.
SC again rallied in the third set, this time from five down at 11-6, with Harris and Watts leading the charge to a 14-13 cushion.
Seven straight points helped the Warhawks take over for good.
After Tuesday road trips, both teams are home Thursday night: GC against Henry Clay; SC versus Woodford County.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.