After a sluggish start to the evening, the Spring Hill Lady Panthers got warmed up and knocked out the Lady Knights of Cumberland Academy in four sets, 20-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-17 on Tuesday at Panther Gymnasium.
The win improves Spring Hill to 17-15 overall and 3-4 in District 16-4A play, snapping a four-game slide and getting the second half of league play off to a good start.
Senior outside hitter A’Zaria Jones turned in a dominating performance with 16 kills and .500 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside Molly Seale added 10 kills of her own as the Lady Panthers finished with 49 total kill shots.
Caylee Mayfield put down six, Maci Plunk five, Ashley Nichols and Erin Gregson four apiece, while Sam Schott added two and single kills went to Mia Traylor and Amirah Alexander.
Schott played her usual solid defense for the Lady Panthers and tallied 10 digs. Lexi White was closed behind with nine, while Jones, Kaycee Campbell and Traylor all managed a half dozen.
Spring Hill’s playoff chances rest on the final five matches on its menu. The Lady Panthers visit Chapel Hill Friday and have their senior night Tuesday against Bullard.
“They had a scrappy style and we need to do a better job covering the tips and free balls,” said Lady Panther coach Andrew Harbison. “That’s a point of emphasis as is working to get lower on defense. Our biggest problem is reacting and not so much anticipating.”
The Lady Panthers, decked out in all pink for the match, muddled through an opening set of eight ties and four lead changes. A Seale return went long at 19-22 before Alexander broke serve at 20-22. Schott, like Seale, put too much a return and Cumberland moved closer to taking the first set.
Mayfield was too strong on set point as the Lady Knights managed to pull off a 25-20 shocker and a 1-0 lead.
Behind Plunk and Jones, the Lady Panthers grabbed a 6-5 advantage in the second. Alexander got hot and served Spring Hill to a 13-10 that included an ace. A beautiful feed from Alexander allowed Jones to thunder one down at 17-12. Seale took the hosts to set point with an ace and Jones finished things off to square it at one set apiece.
The third proved as spirited as the first with 10 ties and a half dozen lead changes. Traylor served Spring Hill to the lead for good with five unanswered that included a Seale slam. Alexander finished things off as Gregson collected a kill shot as Spring Hill went up 2-1.
It was all Lady Panthers in the fourth as Traylor staked the hosts to a quick 6-1 lead. Jones, on the aid of a Mayfield kill and Seale block, took it to 11-2 as Spring Hill was rolling.
The margin grew to 21-11 after Traylor rang up four in a row with an ace and Jones slam.
Nichols came through with a timely block as things advanced to set and match point.
The game came to a close on a net fault from the Lady Knights Cumberland Academy falls to 0-7 in district play.