Raiders 3 Lightning 2
The Lindsay Thurber Raiders knew they were going to get the Hunting Hills Lightning’s best shot but still barely survived to advance to the High School Senior Boys’ Volleyball Zone Final.
The Raiders barely edged the Lightning 3-2 (21-25, 25-15, 25-16, 25-27, 15-11) at Hunting Hills High School on Thursday night, surviving an early scare and an early injury to starting middle Reece Lehman.
“You never plan to play five sets, but Hunting Hills played well tonight, they wouldn’t give up, they played well,” said Raiders head coach Terence McMullen.
The home team came out red hot and seemingly caught Thurber off guard in the first set, leading most of the way, but never establishing more than a two-point lead until the late in the set when they stretched it to 22-18.
LTCHS also lost Lehman in that set to an ankle injury, but Aric Dunn stepped in and they hardly missed a beat the rest of the way. Lehman is questionable for the final.
The Raiders came back in the next two sets and rolled through in dominant fashion, but the pesky Lightning refused to go away in the fourth set, in fact they led 20-13 at one point. LTCHS came back to tie the score at 24-24 and then again at 25-25, but a missed serve by the Raiders gave Hunting Hills the chance to serve out for the win, and they made no mistake.
HHHS carried that momentum into the fifth set and took an 8-6 lead when they switched sides of the court. However, Thurber managed to turn it around, scored the next two points and fought back for the 15-11 win to take the match.
“Our energy was low, we really needed to control the tempo of the game and that’s how we had success in the second, third and end of the fifth (sets),” said McMullen.
Lindsay Thurber now plays the Notre Dame Cougars for the right to go off to provincials in a best of three series with the first match tonight at Lindsay Thurber following Game 1 of the girls final.
The two teams have battled all season and McMullen expects more of the same in the final.
“They always bring their best game when they play us,” said McMullen. “We’re expecting a high=energy team, a very skilled team and it’s going to be a battle. It’s going to come down to who executes better.”
Lightning 3 Cougars 0
The Lindsay Thurber Lighting may have swept their way into the High School Senior Girls’ Volleyball Zone Final, but it very easily could have gone the other way, topping the Notre Dame Cougars 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-20).
The turning point came in the first set of the match as Notre Dame rolled out to a 21-14 lead.
However, the Lightning called a time out and came back more collected and battled their way back into the set, winning it 25-23.
“We just had to focus on one point at a time and don’t focus on the score, just get the next point and make sure the passing is there,” said setter and captain Emma Delemont, 17.
The hosts got out to a 12-7 lead in the second but Notre Dame managed to tie it at 16-16, but the Lightning managed to retake the lead and hold off the Cougars 25-22.
Hunting Hills jumped out to an even bigger lead in the final set, first 11-2 then 21-14, but still had trouble closing out their rivals, settling for a 25-20 win.
The Lightning now face the Raiders in the final tonight at 6 p.m., a team they have yet to beat this season. Delemont says they must find a way to beat their strong defensive positioning and maintaining their composure.
They are expecting a tough best-of-three series but the Grade 12s — Delemont, power Jaedyn Paarup and libero Jill McAllister — are focused on extending their playing careers as long as possible.
“We don’t want to end the season on a loss, we would like to go to provincials,” said Delemont. “So hopefully we can beat Lindsay Thurber.”