GATE CITY — Powell Valley held the upper hand over Gate City for much of Monday’s first- round Region D volleyball match.
But in the end, the Lady Blue Devils made enough clutch plays to send the Lady Vikings home empty-handed.
Gate City rallied from behind in each of the first two games to earn a 26-24, 25-23, 25-18 victory and a semifinal match against Coeburn tonight.
“We did a good job because we could have thrown in the towel and cracked under pressure, but mentally our girls stayed together, fought through adversity and survived at the end,” Gate City coach Amy Reed said.
Powell Valley jumped ahead 7-2 in the first game and earned a game point thanks to a kill by Tasha Trent that gave the Lady Vikings a 24-23 advantage.
Trent was set up again on the next point but missed the sideline by inches. Gate City scored the next two points to escape with a 1-0 lead.
Powell Valley coach Kim Moore said her team did a good job of using the service game to short-circuit Gate City’s potent offense early on.
“We were just trying to pick them apart in places and still serve aggressively,” she said. “If you can mess up Gate City’s offense, that’s the key. I think we did pretty well with that, just some things went their way in the end.”
The Lady Blue Devils jumped ahead 7-2 in the second game, but Powell Valley roared back and grabbed a 20-18 lead. Once again, Gate City was able to make big plays late to build a 2-0 lead.
Reed credited her two seniors for pulling the team through the series of close calls.
“Lindsey (Burke) and Brittany (Simpson), our seniors, they’ve been there,” Reed said. “They kept pushing the rest of the team and changed the face of the game.”
The Lady Vikings appeared unable to shake the disappointment of dropping the first two games as Gate City took control early in the third to seal the deal.
Still, Moore was proud of the effort her team put forth.
“To come in and play Gate City hard like that the first two games, I thought that we had a shot at it,” she said. “We were playing well with them, it just seems like sometimes we remembered who we were playing and kind of let that creep in at times.
“And when doubt creeps in, it hurts you.”
Kaylla Holdway tallied 12 kills and 12 digs while Trent added 13 kills, eight digs, three blocks and three aces for Powell Valley, which ended its season 18-6. Cassie Sturgill added 26 assists, seven digs and five aces.
Reed said her team was lucky to survive after starting so slow against a team as pumped up as Powell Valley was.
“Their hitters, they came out aggressive,” she said. “This time of year, you’ve got to give all you got plus more because you’re going home if you don’t.”
Ashton Dougherty and Erica Fugate had 10 kills each for Gate City (20-1) while Simpson and Burke hammered home eight apiece and Callie Sloop handed out 31 assists.
Reed is expecting a better defensive effort in tonight’s match, which will be played at 7:30 at Council Elementary.
“The defense is going to have to pick it up tomorrow night,” she said. “I guess they had their day off today. Hopefully we’ll get back on track tomorrow.”