By Russell Moore
Special To The Times
Wallace State’s young volleyball team grew up considerably on Tuesday night, outlasting conference rival Gadsden State in four sets to remain perfect in Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) play.
The Lions’ outside hitter Montana Clark closed out the tight, intense match with three consecutive kills and finished with 18 digs and 10 kills to lift her team to a 25-13, 25-23, 22-25, 25-23 victory at Tom Drake Coliseum.
The win avenged a opening-season tournament loss to the Cardinals on Aug. 30.
The Lions (12-7, 6-0 ACCC), the four-time defending state champions, battled back from early deficits in each set they won and nearly rallied from nine points down in the third set to sweep Gadsden State.
“It was hard-fought win for us,” said Wallace State coach Randy Daniel, whose team features 11 freshmen and only three sophomores. “We have a lot of respect for Gadsden State this year. It’s one of the best teams I’ve seen them have. It’s encouraging to see us win these close sets considering how inexperienced we are.
“We’ve worked really hard the last two or three weeks, and I think that’s putting us in the right direction. I’m very happy our team found a way to win. Give a lot of credit to our players.”
Sophomore Kianna Delaney finished with a team-high 20 kills to go along with eight blocks and four digs for Wallace State, while BreAnna Thompson had 13 kills; Bethany Johnson added 11 kills and two digs; and Syretha Pride finished with eight kills and three blocks. Taylor Traglia put together a team-high 21 assists, Blaise Brown contributed 10 assists and Nicole Penny had five. Rosemary Wendel had 16 digs for the Lions, while Payton Norris added seven.
Wallace State won the first set after trailing early, 6-2. After pulling it even at 7-7, the Lions closed the first set on a 19-6 run.
It was more of the same in the second set. Gadsden State built leads of 13-9 and 17-13 before Wallace State rallied again. The Lions tied it at 17-17 and again at 21-21 before doubling up the Cardinals to close it out.
Gadsden State orchestrated a 20-11 cushion in the third set and eventually held off another strong Wallace State charge to win its lone set of the match.
The Lions had to come from behind again in the fourth and final set. Gadsden State held a 16-11 lead before Wallace State answered with a 6-1 run to notch things up at 17-17. There were five more ties before the Lions scored the final two points of the set, getting three consecutive kills from Clark to seal the victory.