Playing on its homecourt, Covenant Academy was unafraid of Warren County. The Lady Lions even won the first set of the anticipated volleyball rematch.
From there, the Lady Pioneers showed why they should be feared.
Warren County rallied to win the next three sets 25-11, 25-16 and 25-12, completing a season sweep against its local rival.
“It was another sluggish start against Covenant,” said Lady Pioneer coach Katie Rogers. “Digging ourselves a hole early by starting slow has been one of our biggest issues all season. We proved we could dig ourselves out though.”
The matchup went much like the first meeting at Charlie Dalton Gym, only this time the teams played a best-of-five match. Covenant again took the first set, winning 25-23, before Warren County took control late.
“Even though the result was the same as the first one, I think our effort was better this game. I am proud of the effort the girls gave,” said Covenant coach Chris Madewell. “It’s always fun to see both teams giving great effort. Our girls were all over the court going after balls. They were very tired at the end.”
Covenant (6-7) had to rally back in the first set, trailing 19-15 before Madisen Madewell flipped the game with her serving. Madewell chopped the deficit in half with back-to-back aces before seeing her team tie on a long spike try by the Lady Pioneers.
The Lady Lions didn’t surge into the lead until Emma Madewell creeped an ace over the net, the ball dropping in front of two diving Lady Pioneers to give Covenant a 22-21 advantage.
Lily Kell sandwiched two kills around a Beth Vaughn spike for Warren County to get the Lady Lions a point away from victory.
With Covenant ahead 24-23, the two teams had a lengthy volley to settle the first set. Warren County made two scrambling saves, but Emma Madewell was able to give Covenant the victory when she swapped out a spike for a drop shot. Madewell’s ball arched over two blockers and fell to the floor as Covenant celebrated.
Marah Wanamaker made sure the home team didn’t cheer long.
The Lady Pioneers senior set the tone in the second set, blasting a huge kill on the opening point and drilling an ace through the heart of the Covenant defense for a 2-0 lead.
Wanamaker continued to own the second set, adding a push shot and slam as the Lady Pioneers built a 7-5 lead. The advantage swelled to 14-6 when Wanamaker ripped two aces in a row, prompting a Covenant timeout.
Arianna Hutchins stopped the Lady Pioneer run with a block, but Warren County cruised to a 25-11 set victory.
Covenant tried to flip the script in the third set, opening a 9-4 lead with its patented air-tight defense. The Lady Lions scrambled to save points the whole match, twice having players go crashing into the bench to make sure the ball was played back.
“Covenant does a tremendous job on defense. They were always in perfect position to pass balls that we hit at them,” said Rogers.
Warren County (5-3) finally broke the home team on a long point in the third set. Trailing 11-6, the Lady Pioneers made two diving plays to keep the ball alive. Covenant responded with big blasts at the net, only to see Warren County make the dig. The Lady Pioneers finally got the point on an errant return, sparking a big run.
Warren County surged into the lead behind the serving of Wanamaker and Hailey Wood, along with Samantha Jennings dominating the net.
By the time Megan Davis stuffed a shot at the net, Warren County led 16-14.
Freshman Madison Hollis finished off the Lady Lions down the stretch, tossing in two aces during an extended serving streak that closed out Covenant.
Warren County ran away with the fourth set, ending any chance of a Lady Lion comeback.
“There’s no quit in the Warren County girls,” said Madewell. “Every time we thought we had them down, they would fight back.”
Both teams were back on their home courts Tuesday night. The Lady Pioneers played host to Soddy Daisy at Charlie Dalton Gym, while Covenant welcomed Lancaster to town. See this weekend’s papers for more information.