LAURINBURG — Scotland lead J.H. Rose two games to one in the second round of the state playoffs Tuesday, but was unable to put the powerhouse team away, as they fell in five sets 28-26, 27-29, 25-20, 14-25 and 11-15.
The match was the most evenly-matched of the entire season. Rose was the most organized team Scotland had faced, and they were just as efficient as the Scots in setting up their main hitters. The similarities made for a thrilling game where the two sides traded points all night, at least until the fourth game where Rose pulled away. The early games were so close that the first two had to go to volleyball’s version of overtime. A normal game goes to 25 points, but teams must win by two.
Scotland won two of the first three games, but mental mistakes and hitting errors cost them in the fourth game and the tie-breaking fifth.
Scotland coach Molly Hayes said there is little room for error against a team with the quality of Rose.
“J.H. Rose is a great team. They’re very well-coached and have a great volleyball program. So you know when you play a team like J.H. Rose you cannot afford to be out of position and making errors,” Hayes said. “When we made those errors or mental mistakes or hit it into the net, those were the few points that I think made a difference.”
Senior Madeline Milholland, who lead the Scots with 22 kills and 31 completed passes, said it was hard to string together multiple points when both teams are playing so well.
“I thought the momentum changed a lot. We would get it and they would get it. That’s the difficult thing about teams that are evenly-matched. You don’t get runs, everything is point-for-point which makes it a lot harder,” Milholland said. “Everyone was playing a great game. There were some defensive problems on both sides but it was pretty even.”
The second game was the closest of the match, with neither team able to extend their lead past three points. Scotland and Rose went back-and-forth until it was tied at 27-27. Rose won the next two points to take that set, with Kendall Douglas adding the winning spike.
Rose put up the 25-14 win in game four, the only lopsided game of the match. Scotland still managed to come out strong in the tiebreaker but ultimately fell 15-11 behind strong hitting from the visitors.
Avery Callahan has been the leading setter for the Scots this season. Tuesday she collected 43 assists as well as 22 digs, which is a lot for her position. She said the team sometimes relaxes after going up a game.
“Sometimes we get a little comfortable so we don’t play up to where we should be,” Callahan said. “When they come back for the second game they come back a lot harder and we get more relaxed.”
Jessie Kee followed Milholland with 10 kills. Kenleigh Callahan had eight and Katelyn Hunt had five. Hunt was also tied for the leading server for Scotland with 21 serves. Ashleigh Bailey also had 21, and collected two aces. Bailey also had 19 digs on the match.