County rivals Williams and Maxwell faced off Sept. 13 in an exciting match marked by extended rallies, athletic plays, and competitive spirit.
And while both found themselves out of system and struggling at times with unforced errors, there was no quit in either squad.
Still, in the end, the Yellowjackets’ strength and experience prevailed as they posted a 27-25, 25-22, 21-25,25-17 victory to take a 2-0 lead halfway through the season series.
In the first set, while the Panthers maintained a seven point advantage midway through, the ‘Jackets came roaring back to tie the score at 23 and take its first lead at 24-23.
Maxwell held off Williams for two set points before Ashley Garcia took matters into her own hands, delivering an ace and a kill to conclude the set.
It was more of the same in the subsequent set, as the two teams battled in a seesaw fashion, before ending again in the Yellowjackets’ favor after Mia Rivera landed a kill and another Garcia ace.
Garcia turned in a solid performance, finishing with seven kills and five aces, while Rivera had a game high 11 kills and made four blocks.
Although it would have been easy for the Panthers to mail in the third, they instead responded by showing their mettle, staging a rally of their own, which featured Baillee Haywood serving seven straight points to close out the set.
On the night, Haywood served five aces and made a herculean effort in the back row, with 17 digs and 32 receptions.
Yet, in the final set, errors proved to be the Panthers undoing, as the ‘Jackets capitalized to ultimately prevail in the match.
Williams setter Trinity Tungasmita exhibited some crafty play, recording a double-double, and handing out 20 assists to go along with 10 digs.
In the back row, libero Linda Rivera was impressive, making a game high 26 digs, while Briana Jaime pitched in with 13.
First year head coach Darren Robinson was obviously pleased with the outcome and praised his squad’s resolve saying, “The team responded well after giving up a big lead in the third game. They continued to support each other while holding themselves accountable, which is a strength that this group of ladies has demonstrated throughout the year.”
For the Panthers, who have no reason to hang their heads, Ryann Dennis finished with a team high eight kills, Emma Hendrix logged seven kills and eight assists, while Kennidy Moss made 10 digs and 17 receptions.
Both teams won their second matches last week with Williams sweeping Princeton in a rout 25-8, 25-8, 25-16, and Maxwell downing Paradise Adventist Academy 28-26, 25-16, 25-27, 25-16.
The two rivals were back at it on Sept. 20 in their third meeting of the season as they opened Mid-Valley play.
Tonight Williams (9-6) hosts Los Molinos, while Maxwell (9-3) entertains CORE Butte. ■