With superb play around the net, Sullivan East’s volleyball squad used its strengths as an advantage.
The Lady Patriots delivered long scoring stretches and outlasted Elizabethton in three games, 25-11, 25-10, 25-16, Thursday at Treadway Gymnasium.
“They were firing on all cylinders tonight,” said Elizabethton coach Leslee Bradley. “They had their team going, all of their hitters were on and they have so many offensive weapons you don’t know where the ball is going to come from. And when it comes, you know it’s going to come hard.”
The first game was a close battle at first, with the Lady Cyclones cutting a four-point advantage to one.
But East stretched its lead to 13-10, then took off with a 10-point stretch behind Nikki Luster’s serve and cruised to the 25-11 edge.
In game two, Luster was strong on serve early as East overcame a quick Elizabethton lead with six consecutive points. THe Lady Patriots added a five-point run behind Haley Roe to build their lead to 11, then scored seven of the last nine points for the second game.
Game three was more of the same early, as East built a 6-1 advantage. But Elizabethton got some momentum of its own, using runs of three and two to pull within four on four different occasions.
“Every time we had a timeout and between games, we talked about adjustments to be stronger against them, and we showed that as the match wore on and we were getting closer to them,” said Bradley. “We were making better adjustments and making better plays, so the score was definitely indicative of that in the third game.”
East got its mojo back with an 18-14 lead, scoring five consecutive points — then adding two more points to seal the win.
“I thought we played pretty well tonight,” said Sullivan East coach Julia Rafalowski. “I was able to change it up a little bit too and get more people in that haven’t gotten a lot of playing time here lately. They were able to come in and not change the tone of the game very much.”
Kara Anderson, Brittany Scott, Tori James and Roe were big around the net for the visitors and created some frustration for Elizabethton.
“I tell them all the time we’ve just got to be strong and hit a lot,” said Rafalowski. “Offense is huge for us and we really have focused a lot more on that this year than we have in the past.”
East was led by a double-double from Anderson, who tallied 10 kills and 12 digs.
Luster had six aces and six kills, while Casey Williams tallied 29 digs and Roe added 26 assists.
For Elizabethton, Ashleigh Dykes was strong with six kills and 100 percent service in all three games.
Summer Reece contributed 17 digs and Abbi Pierce assisted 13 times to contribute to the Lady Cyclones’ cause.
“We knew coming in every night you have to bring your best game,” added Bradley. “I feel like they played a really good game tonight and it was hard to match up to that.”
Elizabethton jumped out to a good start against the conference leader East, winning the first game 25-16.
But the Lady Patriots battled back for a 25-22 win in the second game and took advantage of confusion in the third game for a 15-10 decision and victory.
Reece had three aces for Elizabethton, which had two kills apiece from Megan Pietrowski and Chrissie King.