After going up 2-0, the Unity Christian Lady Lions suddenly found themselves searching for answers with a decisive fifth set coming up.
All the momentum seemed to lie with the visiting Georgia-Cumberland Academy Lady Jaguars after they took sets three and four by scores of 25-12 and 25-13, respectively.
“At the end of the day, this is six versus six, and it’s a game to 15 regardless,” Lady Lions head coach Jessany Petricevic said on the fifth set. “We need to come out with all the momentum. This is your home court and you defend your home court no matter what. We really had the discussion about coming off strong and staying strong and not having any roller coaster of energy.”
In the end, Unity Christian found its groove and defeated Georgia-Cumberland 15-11 in the final fifth set to win the match 3-2.
“I think this win tonight came at a good time,” Petricevic said. “We’ve had a bit of a losing streak lately ... that’s given us a lot to learn. This momentum is going to put us back in the mindset that we do have ... control over what we do.”
Unity Christian fell behind early in each of the first two sets, but quickly rallied, going up 16-8 in set one and cruising to a 25-11 set one victory.
The Lady Jaguars, though, kept matters close in the second set, as Unity held a 16-15 edge. The Lady Lions began to pull away after some serves from Alyssa Okubo threw the visitors of their game. UC closed the set on a 9-3 run with the set two final 25-18.
“In the first two sets of this match, we really had the momentum,” Petricevic said. “We have a crowd and everything, but we came out with the confidence and that’s where it went roller coaster after that.”
If volleyball was split by halves, this match through four sets would have been a tale of two halves.
Georgia-Cumberland stormed back, as the momentum pendulum took a hard left turn. After an early 8-7 GCA advantage in set three, the Lady Jags went to work, outscoring UC 17-6 to solidify the third frame 25-13.
“The biggest difference between those two sets in two and three was our momentum of energy,” Petricevic said. “Our energy went down and we plummeted in our self-confidence. Something the girls have to in their timeouts is focus on one point at a time.”
The fourth set played out much like the third. At one point, the Lady Lions rallied to 8-7, but miscues allowed GCA to pull away on a 17-5 run to capture set four 25-12.
“The thing that we’ve been practicing a lot of is starting a game,” Petricevic said. “What I think that did to us in this game was we kind of got nervous finishing a game.”
After a quick turnover of a tri-match at Chattooga High School, the Lady Lions prepare to battle regional opponent Lyndon Academy in Woodstock on Thursday. Unity Christian will see Lyndon Academy once more one week later on senior night, Thursday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m.