By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. —
The action was fast, furious and heated Tuesday night at the Tazewell High School Gymnasium as the Lady Bulldogs defeated the Graham G-Girls in a five-set volleyball match, 25-16, 19-25, 24-26, 25-20 and 15-9.
Students, fans and players were enthusiastic inside the sweltering THS gymnasium for the match. In the first set Graham took the early lead only to see Tazewell pull away to a 15-8 advantage on seven straight Lady Bulldog points. Graham later went on a 4-0 run, but Tazewell claimed the first set 25-16.
Switching ends of the court the G-Girls took control in set No. 2. After a tie at three, Graham scored five points in a row and maintained the lead until Tazewell climbed to within three, then two at 21-19. Casey Spencer then served for the final four points, the game-winner coming on an ace and Graham won 25-19.
Set No. 3 saw Tazewell run out to a 7-2 lead and Graham called time. Slowly the G-Girls fought back, getting to within three points on numerous occasions. Graham pulled to within one at 18-17 and Tazewell called time to regroup.
The G-Girls got their first lead of the set at 19-18, but Tazewell came back, knotting the score at 20 on an ace by Karlee Wasilewski. There would also be ties at 21 and 22. Tazewell went up by a point only to see Graham score the final two points and win the third set 26-24.
Down 10-8, in the fourth set, Graham reeled off four in a row to take a 12-10 lead. Tazewell drew even at 12 and there would be ties at 15 and 16. The G-Girls went on a 3-0 run to lead 19-16, forcing Tazewell to call time. The Lady Dogs charged back and drew even at 20, then with Wasilewski serving scored the final five points for a 25-20 win that tied the match at two games apiece, sending the teams to a deciding fifth set.
Graham forged ahead 2-0 only to see Tazewell take a 6-4 lead at which time the G-Girls regrouped. The Lady Dogs went up 13-9 and Graham took its final timeout of the night before Tazewell scored the final two points to win the set and match.
Tazewell coach Katie Hurley said, “When they play as a team it shows. They’ve got a lot of heart, they did a good job. I know we let it go in the middle a little bit, but when they play together and show teamwork, they are awesome.”
Key for Tazewell was the serving of Wasilewski and the overall play of Whitney Saunders.
“Whitney has got heart,” Hurley said. “She’ll fight for any ball, anywhere on the floor, even in the stairwell. They’re a good group of girls and they work well together.”
Graham coach Omi Oakes saw her team improve before her eyes Tuesday night.
“”Our girls came in and played as hard as they could,” Oakes said. “Tazewell is a good team. We lost but we gained a lot of insight on how to play as a team.”
Named coach just prior to the start of the season, Oakes continued, “We’re learning to play together, we’re coming together as a team. We say Proverbs 23:7 every time we come out as a team. The girls are getting in their heads that they have to be strong and grow as a team.”
With the win Tazewell improved to 3-2, while Graham fell to 0-3.