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By RYAN BUTLER
The Newberry varsity volleyball team showed the difference a month in between games, and a few unstoppable outside hitters, can make on the court.
The Panthers beat Chiefland 3-0 (25-12),(25-16), (25-17) on Oct. 23, advancing to the district championship game and clinching a spot in the regional tournament. The Panthers went on to beat Union County in the tournament finals.
“Newberry is a great team with a couple of standout players,” said Chiefland head coach Tammy Arrington. “We beat them 3-0 the last time but a game like this can go either way.”
During the regular season the Indians squandered a 2-1 set lead to the Panthers on Sep. 13 in a 3-2 loss but came back and swept them 3-0 in their more recent match-up on Oct. 4. But in the game that mattered most, Newberry clearly played like the better team.
The Chiefland varsity volleyball team just needed one win in the district tournament. The No. 3 seed in district 1A-7, all it needed to do was defeat host Newberry, the No. 2 seed, to advance to the region tournament. A great barrage of outside hitting carried the Panthers to the win. Chiefland tried to adjust by using its lengthy front line to deflect or deter the hits. It wasn’t enough against the Panthers. The Indians didn’t make many mistakes digging — they simply weren’t able to get to the blistering slams from their opponents.
Newberry meanwhile executed to near perfection on their side of the net.
Great assists by setter Mariah Sapp gave outside players like Kelsey Harris and Sydney Daughetry excellent positing for kills. The pair combined for six kills in the decisive third set.
Coming off two tough losses in the initial pair of sets and facing a daunting 0-2 whole, the Indians played tight through the first half of the first set. But like in the previous two, the Panthers proved too much. After going up 13-10, the Panthers went on a 5-point run, stretching their lead to 18-11 and all but securing the win.
Chiefland jumped out early in the second set but a 8-point run built the Panthers a 10-5 lead and caused Arrington to call timeout. It didn’t do much to slow Newberry’s momentum and a 6-0 CHS run later in the set proved too little too late.
In the first set Chiefland was as close as 8-7 but Newberry quickly responded with a 4-0 run. Down 18 -12, the Panthers would go on to win the next seven points in the most lopsided win of the three sets.
The loss brings an end to the volleyball careers of Chiefland’s five-person senior class: T.J. Arrington, Shyricca Bowers, Dalas Cater, Katie Warren and Lauren Tiner.