Comeback wins start with a shift in momentum, and for the Columbus High School volleyball team, that shift came at the end of a set the Falcons would lose.
Host West Lowndes won the third set of Thursday’s match 25-20 but not before nearly surrendering a lead they once held by comfortably by seven points. The Falcons fought back to cut the lead to 20-18 before the Panthers eventually got back in a groove, but although they took a 2-1 lead in sets, the momentum had already started to swing the other way.
The Falcons (3-7) came out ready and focused for the fourth set, jumping out to a 7-1 lead. Mistakes by the Panthers (0-8) proved costly in the set as they couldn’t sustain possessions, and the Falcons eventually took it 25-17 and forced a decisive fifth set, which they would win to claim the match. Set scores were 25-18, 21-25, 20-25, 25-17 and 15-5.
Strong performances from upperclassmen were pivotal for the Falcons, including junior Riya Patel and seniors Johnasia O’Neal, Alicia Taylor and team captain Jakiya Lewis.
“It feels good to come in, execute and do what we’re supposed to do,” Lewis said after the win. “We knew they were going to come back strong from the first time we played them, so we just had to come back stronger.”
“We knew it was gonna happen; we weren’t scared,” Columbus head coach Jessica Davis said, showing confidence in her girls to get the job done even when they were down. “We already knew it was gonna happen. Our setter got down a little bit, and we were a little out of rotation, but we already knew we’d get the win out.”
West Lowndes interim head coach Portia Liggins had an emotional team to handle after the loss. While the Panthers weren’t able to see out a win, there were moments for them to be proud of. Their coach recognized that as well and believes the experience could be an important one for the side as they continue pushing for their first win of the season.
“It was intense,” Liggins said. “We were up and we couldn’t find the mojo or energy to finish it. We’re young, and they let the crowd and the Columbus bench intimidate them a little bit. I think we can fix it and next year beat them.”
Liggins has had to fill in for head coach Ashley Clark in her first year as a teacher as well as a coach at West Lowndes, and despite the struggles, she’s embraced the experience.
“It’s been challenging,” Liggins said. “This is my first year as a teacher and first year as a coach. That team that I have, I think we’re good but we’ve got to work out a few things. We played good tonight; we’ve just got to fix some things.”
The Falcons return to action on Monday, taking on Louisville at home. The Panthers go on the road next, traveling to Noxapater on Tuesday.
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