Pike knocks off Glenwood, advances to second round

Published 10:25 pm Monday, October 21, 2013

They had to work for it, but the Pike Liberal Arts Lady Patriots pushed through a straight-set sweep (26-24, 25-19, 25-17)) to knock off the Glenwood Gators and advance to the next round of the AISA AAA volleyball playoffs.

The atmosphere was tense inside the Pike gymnasium as fans of both programs turned out to support their girls.

The Patriots fed off their crowd’s energy and cruised to an early lead in the first set of the match, taking an early 19-11 lead. The Patriots failed to put the Gators away, however, and Glenwood came roaring back to win the next six points to bring the set to 19-17.

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Head coach Mendy Avant took a timeout to calm her team down. Pike and Glenwood battled back-and-forth until Glenwood took a 24-23 lead.

Defending set point, the Patriots broke Glenwood’s serve and then won the next two points to win the first set 24-26.

The second set was not quite as dramatic as the first, as the Patriots led throughout. In the second set, Pike was paced by seniors Marley Tunstill and Ellie Barron who commanded the floor both offensively and defensively for the Patriots.

The final set of the match was Pike’s most complete performance. Pike started strong and led comfortably until Glenwood cut the Patriot lead to 17-13. Pike went on to win eight of the match’s last 12 points for 25-17 win.

Coach Avant acknowledged that, though Pike won each set, Glenwood kept the match’s outcome in doubt until the end. “Glenwood has improved tremendously,” Avant said. “They have so much athleticism on their team.”

Avant also said she was proud of the way her team managed to close out close sets. “I think it shows we’re coming together as a team,” Avant said, “We hit the ball well and made good plays.”

Avant cited the crowd as a major reason for her girls’ success. “Our crowd was amazing today,” Avant said. “We want to thank coach Allen for letting the football players come to cheer on the girls. They practiced a little earlier today and broke their practice in half so they could watch us play.”

“When we went up to Glenwood, their crowd was rowdy,” Avant said. “We wanted the same sort of atmosphere here.”

With the win, the Lady Patriots move on to the four-team region tournament at Lee-Scott Academy in Auburn. The top two teams from that tournament will move on to the Final Four.

Pike will play Lee-Scott at 2:00 in Auburn,