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No. 5 Spring Hill Outlasts Gilmer in Five in Battle of District 16-3A Unbeatens

Spring Hill’s Jacey Fleet (14) taps the ball over the net during the Lady Panthers’ five-game victory at Gilmer on Tuesday night. (© Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

GILMER — Gilmer had the desire and a supportive crowd. Spring Hill had the experience.

In the end, experience won out.

Fifth-ranked Spring Hill remained unbeaten in District 16-3A with a wild 24-26, 25-19, 20-25, 25-18, 15-13 victory over Gilmer in a front of an electric atmosphere at Gilmer High School on Tuesday night.

Spring Hill’s Jenna Hampton and Gilmer’s Belynda Ray reach for the ball at the net during their match Tuesday night in Gilmer. (© Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

“That’s huge,” said Spring Hill coach Karen Brundett of picking up a road win at Gilmer. “This was a great game and a much-needed test for us. To come out on top, I think in the end it was experience. But Gilmer’s on the rise, they did a great job.”

Gilmer (17-10, 4-1) led the match 2-1 before the Lady Panthers (27-2, 5-0) battled back to force a fifth game.

“Gilmer played their hearts out,” Brundrett said. “That’s the best I’ve seen them play. They wanted it very badly and my hat’s off to them.”

Sophomore Ann Hollas led Spring Hill with 24 kills and two blocks. Jacey Fleet added 10 kills, Jenna Hampton provided eight kills and five blocks, Mikai Brown had seven kills and two aces and senior setter Rachel Riestenberg dished out 46 assists to go along with three kills and four blocks.

“I think what our breakdown was that our setter could not hear what the kids were calling,” Brundrett said. “And so we couldn’t get into our rhythm because of the crowd. Their crowd was definitely a 12th man tonight, or a seventh man … whatever it is in volleyball. I think our crowd answered, they did a great job too supporting the girls and I can’t say enough about them.”

Gilmer coach Keely Peterson talks to her team during their match with Spring Hill on Tuesday night in Gilmer. (© Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Maci Ritter led Gilmer with 13 kills and four blocks. Makayla Sikes added 12 kills and four aces, Christian Brown provided 11 kills, Belynda Ray finished with 10 kills and two blocks and Shaylee Fennell registered 41 assists and seven kills on the night.

Spring Hill jumped out to a 6-2 lead in Game 5, prompting Gilmer coach Keely Peterson to call a quick timeout. The Lady Buckeyes then reeled off five consecutive points behind a block and two kills from Brown to take a 7-6 lead.

The Lady Panthers went back in front, 10-8, but Gilmer scored the game’s next four points for a 12-10 lead. But Hollas and Brown combined on three kills as Spring Hill regained a 14-12 lead.

A spirited rally then ensued, which was ended by a tip from Fennell, which brought the boisterous Gilmer crowd to its feet and trimmed Spring Hill’s lead to one point. However, a misplay at the net on the ensuing point allowed the Lady Panthers to escape with the victory.

“At the first there was way too much energy, and you have to learn to play with it contained and play with confidence,” Brundrett said. “We weren’t doing that. We were back on our heels waiting to see what they did to us instead of taking our game to them. And I don’t think we ever got into the rhythm of taking our game to them.”

Spring Hill continues its season Friday at Gladewater, while Gilmer plays at Chapel Hill.

The Gilmer bench erupts after a point during their match with Spring Hill in Gilmer on Tuesday night. (© Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

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