By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Eastern Greene’s Mallorie Elliott spent the last three weeks wearing a protective boot. Once she got it off, she kicked some life into the Thunderbirds.
Elliott’s net power and Eastern’s team scrappiness were the difference as the Thunderbirds rallied in the final two sets to conquer Bedford North Lawrence during a five-set battle on Monday night. Eastern, propelled by a fast start in the final set, posted a tough 21-25, 25-23, 25-27, 25-19, 15-12 win.
Not only did Elliott crush kills up front, she had back-to-back service winners as Eastern (8-13) rushed to a 6-2 lead in the deciding set. One of the volleyball axioms is “first to five” wins a fifth set, and that proved true as the Stars (7-15) could not close the gap.
“We’re a young team, and in a game like this, where they haven’t had the varsity experience in these tough, back-and-forth adversity games to dig out of a hole, we showed that a little bit,” BNL coach Whitney Carroll said. “We can do it, but they get down on themselves.”
After the Stars couldn’t close out the second set, they roared to a 14-7 lead in the third. Eastern battled back, pulling even at 23-23. Camryn Anderson cracked a cross-court kill, but the Thunderbirds knocked down a block at the net for 25-25. Two mistakes cost Eastern the final two points as BNL took a 2-1 advantage.
But from that point, Eastern became the aggressor.
“A little bit better passing, better touches on the block,” Eastern coach Kelsey Frye said. “That slowed the ball down where we could run offense. And we didn’t quit on a few balls where it would have been down. It wasn’t pretty, but we didn’t quit and it resulted in getting a point. Those are nice. We had some scrappy play.”
Elliott had 15 kills, Addie Ikerd totaled 13 kills, Keylee Hudson dished out 37 assists and Bailee Tieman added 33 defensive digs for Eastern.
Trinidy Bailey paced the Stars with 47 assists and 23 digs. Anderson posted 19 kills and 22 digs, Sammie Gratzer pounded down 16 kills, Kendlyn Alvey had 24 digs and Isabelle Harding added 7 kills.
“We had some great moments,” Carroll said. “Trinidy hustled on the court all night. She’s taking over the setter role, commanding the court, and getting the hitters going.”
BNL will visit Columbus North on Tuesday.