The Hixson Lady Wildcat volleyball took a nice rollercoaster ride Thursday evening and they all got off at the end with smiles on their faces.
Actually, it was just a key District 6-AA match with rival Central at Hixson, but it was the Lady Wildcats who prevailed in a thriller that went five sets.
Hixson won the first game with relative ease by a score of 25-19 before the Lady Pounders rebounded with wins in the second and third games by scores of 25-18 and 25-21.
Things seemed to be going Central's way after a slow start, but oh, how the momentum can swing in a high school volleyball match.
Hixson broke away from a tie at 18-all for a 20-18 lead in the fourth set before Central coach Robin Moore called time. Whatever was suggested during the break didn't unfold as planned as Ceria Taylor had three straight service points, including an ace, as Hixson pulled ahead by 23-18 before winning 25-20.
The Lady Pounders led for much of the fifth set, including the biggest margin of five points at 12-7. Hixson rallied following a timeout to knot the score at 14 before it was tied again at 15.
Then with the match on the line, Abby Tipton had a kill and an ace as the Lady Wildcats pulled out the decisive fifth set by a score of 17-15. Those were Tipton's only kill and ace of the entire match.
Hixson coach Janet Tate knew ahead of time that it would be a critical match for both teams. Central had beaten Hixson in two different tournaments and may have had the edge coming in, but the Lady Wildcats came through with flying colors when the chips were on the line.
"We played extremely hard and we never quit," Tate said after her team had improved to 9-12 overall and 1-0 in 6-AA.
"Central's program is really coming on, but we really wanted to win this match and we thought that we could. I think our maintaining our composure was the key as we never got too high or too low.
"We still have a way to go, but I think Central was number one in our coaches poll, so this is an especially big win for us," Tate concluded with a smile.
Central's Moore certainly wasn't her happiest after the match ended.
"We surely didn't play our best today as everything we tried to do was off. This is my first year as their coach and I inherited a very talented team. We have the potential to be really good, but we had 38 hitting errors today and that should tell you something," she shook her head.
"We should have the best team in this district, but we have to develop some mental toughness. It seemed like today when we made a mistake, they just snowballed, but I hope we learned something from it.
"We had a slow start, but played Central volleyball in the second and third games. Then for some unknown reason, we just sort of shut down. We had some success early in the season and that may be part of our problem, but we just didn't play very well today," Moore concluded.
Tiffany Estep was a key contributor up front with 27 kills while Samantha Scott had 34 digs and Chasidy Ainslie had 20 assists.
Lexie Ainslie finished with 16 assists while Rebekah Hill had eight kills and 13 digs. Estep also had five aces while Scott had four.
Paige Lawson was the leader for Hixson with 13 kills and nine digs. She also had an ace and a block.
Tipton had 23 digs to go along with her ace and kill while Taylor finished the match with 22 digs, 14 assists, seven kills and three aces. Jessica Green was credited with 11 digs while Morgan White had 15 digs, three kills and a pair of aces for the winners.
Central is now 15-6 overall and 1-1 in 6-AA.
Both teams return to action on Tuesday with home matches. Central will host Signal Mountain while Hixson will entertain Lookout Valley.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)