DOBSON — Following the third set of Tuesday’s volleyball match, coach Carrie Hutchens wondered who had kidnapped her Surry Central team and replaced it with a set of impostors.
Then, just as suddenly, the real Lady Eagles returned, just in time to capture an emotional five-set victory over Forbush in Western Piedmont action.
On Senior Night for Jess Fowler, Ashlynn Jewell and Madison Robertson, the Eagles rallied from a 2-1 deficit to complete a 25-19, 22-25, 14-25, 25-15, 15-9 victory and a split of the season series with the Falcons.
“I have no clue who those girls in the third set were,” said Hutchens. “It’s been that way for us all season. Sometimes, we go away for a while and then we come back. Maybe you can call us the ‘Comeback Kids,’ I don’t know.”
Central (12-10, 5-4 WPC) played at an exceptionally high level for most of the match, with the only exceptions being a lengthy stretch of the second set and virtually all of the third, when Forbush (14-7, 6-3), which had beaten the Lady Eagles 3-1 back on Sept. 24, dominated play on the front line and moved ahead in the match.
The hosts began their fight back after the Falcons won three of the first four points of the do-or-die fourth set.
Central managed to tie the score and then move ahead, but the shift in momentum came slowly, starting with back-to-back plays where Ema Coe and Sarah Ford took on their Forbush foes at the net and came away victorious, putting the Lady Eagles on top 8-5.
Forbush middle hitter Michaela Allred won a point for her team, but then gave up a point by serving the ball into the net, and Surry Central kept the pressure on.
Over the next several minutes, the Lady Eagles won a number of long rallies while making big plays at the net, including two where Brooke Snow pounced on balls unintentionally hit over the net by Forbush and smashed them back at the Falcons.
When Taylor Coe served an ace, the lead was 19-10 and everyone could smell a fifth set coming. The teams then essentially swapped points until Central won the set.
That trend continued into the tiebreaker set, with the Falcons and Eagles splitting the first eight points. Then came the decisive rally. It began simply enough, with Forbush’s Alexandra Wingler serving the ball into the net and putting Surry Central back on top. But the Lady Eagles never looked back. Ema Coe hit a ball off Sidney Matthews to make it 6-4. Snow blocked Colby Crater at the net, and after an unforced error made it 8-4, she blocked Crater a second time. The run eventually reached seven straight points on two more Forbush errors before the Falcons scored again.
They responded with four straight points to close to within 11-8, but Hutchens was confident in her team and didn’t call a time-out. Ford guided a winner just inside the sideline to get Central back on track. Snow killed another over-hit ball and Jewell made a kill from the back line for the match-winner.
“I never doubted we could come back and win it,” said Hutchens. “With these girls, once they get into a groove like that, it’s on.”
The Lady Eagles started out just as well, outscoring Forbush 10-4 down the stretch of the first set after the teams split the first 30 points evenly. They continued to dominate early in the second set, taking a 14-8 lead before Forbush, led by Allred and Wingler, mounted a rally and eventually pulled the set out by three points.
Jewell had 10 kills and 14 assists in her final home match. Robinson was credited with 34 digs and a kill, and Fowler added seven kills, 23 digs and two aces.
Taylor Coe had four kills and five blocks, Ema Coe nine kills and two blocks, Ford 18 assists and 17 digs, and Snow two kills and eight blocks.
Surry Central finishes the regular season on Thursday at West Stokes.
Reach John on Twitter at @johncate73.