“I don’t feel like we got over that hump today, but closer toward the end we just found a way to just pull out a win,” head coach Sheroderick Smith said.
Winterboro won the first game easily, 25-14. Tiffany Vincent sparked the team to a 19-7 lead following six straight serve points, including two aces. Jasmine Richardson got one of her four kills in the game for the winning point.
The Lady Bulldogs won the second game, 25-23. The team jumped out to an early 10-3 lead behind two aces from Tamirra Johnson. Linden fought to tie the game at 20-20. Winterboro earned the winning point when the Lady Patriots’ return went out of bounds.
Linden jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third game with Charquell Compton serving five straight serve points, including three aces. Tomysha Boykin helped extend the lead to 12-3 with four straight serve points, including one ace. Several calls did not fall Winterboro’s way, which got the out of their rhythm, falling into an 18-6 deficit before losing the game 25-12.
“We won the first two games and then we had some very questionable calls that kind of took the spirit out of our kids,” Smith said. “That happened to us probably only two other times this year, so we don’t really see strong officiating like that. When we get to a time that it matters, I don’t feel like we battle adversity and fight through some of the calls that were made.”
Smith hopes his team learned a lesson from the game, a lesson that can be extended beyond the confines of the volleyball court.
“The whole team dwelled on their mistakes and it almost cost them,” he said. “Even though we won, we didn’t play well enough to seal the deal. Even in life, you can be in a situation where you can have a lot of bad cards dealt to you. Are you still going to dwell on those cards, or are you going to find a way to keep fighting through? That’s kind of what I have been preaching to all of our athletes during my tenure at Winterboro.”
The fourth game went to Linden, 26-24. Winterboro had an early 10-6 lead following a Chanel Phillips kill. Compton had three straight serve points to cut the lead to 10-9. Things went back and forth for the rest of the game. Linden earned the winning point on an ace by Imiya Agee.
In the fifth and deciding game, Winterboro trailed 11-7 when Smith called his last timeout. It was a risky move, but his team responded by scoring four unanswered points to tie it, 11-11. The two teams battled back and forth for the remainder of the game. Richardson proved to be clutch at the end. Winterboro trailed 15-14, but Richardson had a kill, followed by a Linden return that went out of bounds and Richardson finished the game with a kill for the winning point, 17-15.
“In volleyball, you’ve got to have a great attacker and she does that well, serves the ball pretty well too,” Smith said. “She had an off game overall today, which doesn’t happen that often so I’m not going to dwell on it. She’s got to fight through that. Sometimes when you haven’t had a bad game, you focus on it. You’re like ‘Man, I haven’t had one of these in a while.’ You can’t shake it. She’s going to have to shake it if we want to stay alive the next game.”
The next game will be today at 9 a.m. on the same court at the Multiplex at Cramton Bowl against Brantley.
“I had a chance to see Brantley a little bit,” Smith said. “They’ve got three girls that can attack, so we’re going to have to get our hands on some blocks. Our serving has to be consistent. That’s something that we believe in: the serve. It hasn’t been as consistent as I would like for it to be. All in all, we were very fortunate to advance. Our team is going to have to show some consistent team commitment as far as cheering the kids on because we’re all one team. We haven’t arrived by just being fortunate enough to win area; we’re trying to get an Elite Eight appearance for the first time. That’s going to take some hard work and dedication in the morning.”