After battling to win the first two sets and then dropping the hard-fought third set, the Lee volleyball team was outlasted by home-standing Valdosta State on Saturday afternoon and suffered a gut-wrenching five-set (3-2) defeat at The Complex.
The 28-26, 27-25, 25-21, 25-12, 15-9 Gulf South Conference loss dropped the Lady Flames to 8-6 overall and 1-2 in league play. The Blazers improved to 10-4, 3-0. The road warriors will return to Paul Dana Walker Arena on Tuesday evening and host the University of Alabama in Huntsville in another GSC contest slated for 6 p.m.
In the first two sets the Lady Flames quickly jumped out on top and forced the Blazers to call timeouts.
Valdosta State would rebound in both sets, but Lee was able to hold off a comeback and produce the wins. Overall, there were eight ties in the first set and five lead changes. In the second set there were eight more ties and four lead changes.
The hard-fought affair continued in the third set with seven ties and four more lead changes before Valdosta finally claimed the 25-21 win that seemed to seize all momentum away from the Lady Flames.
It was all Blazers from that point forward. Led by three straight aces by Mallory Roney, Valdosta quickly captured an 11-3 advantage in the final set. The never-say-die Lady Flames fought back to cut the margin to 12-9 and forced the timeout by the Blazers, but three straight points ended any hopes of a comeback.
Abby Stroh enjoyed a solid performance for Lee. The graduate student had a contest high 21 kills and registered a .300 attack mark. Stroh also led the Lady Flames with 22 digs. Allie Scurlock had 13 kills while Naomi Hockless and Julia Davis added six apiece. Ashton Middleton dished off 48 assists and came up with 11 digs. Kamryn Halpin came away with 12 digs.
The strong Valdosta State performance at the net was led by an impressive Christina Pettigrew. She had 14 kills and hit .387 of her attacks. She also had seven blocks. Roney had eight service aces as the Blazers helped turn the table with 14 aces on the day. Roney also had four blocks. Mackenzie Murray added 13 slams while Jojo Smith added 11 as her team totaled 62 kills for the day and came up with 21 blocks. Valdosta also had 82 digs with Lily Glover totaling 28 and Roneyappearing in the stats again with 16.
Coach Christa Fabre’s thoughts:
“The first two sets were really good volleyball. Our team came out hungry and ready to compete. We executed at a high level and kept putting the pressure on. Valdosta’s front line made adjustments to our hitting tendencies, like a good team will, and did such a good job of shutting down a big strength of ours. They ended the match with 18 blocks and that’s a hard number to overcome.
“We are ready to get back in the gym on Monday and prepare for UAH at home on Tuesday.”