FISHERSVILLE – It was the opening set of the Conference 36 volleyball quarterfinals and Wilson Memorial was one point away from falling into an early hole.
A pair of freshmen came to the rescue, helping the Green Hornets advance with a 27-25, 25-20, 25-21 victory over visiting East Rockingham on Tuesday night.
Trailing 25-24, Paris Hutchinson pounded a spike off an Eagle block to even the score. Fellow ninth-grader Cassidy Davis rotated back and delivered back-to-back service aces that ended the set and gave Wilson plenty of momentum.
Junior Hannah Johnson had five kills in Game 1 that kept the Hornets close. She appreciates the contributions that Davis and Hutchinson have made to the team.
“They’re amazing,” said Johnson, who finished the match with 17 kills and eight digs. “Last year, we didn’t have a big variety of hitters. Now we have a bunch of different hitters we can go to and they’re a big asset to our team.”
The first-set rally made things easier for the Hornets, who had just played East Rock to a five-set marathon win last week in Elkton.
“The girls have learned that if you let up, it’s done,” said Wilson Memorial head coach Lauren Grove. “It’s a good thing that they keep fighting, even when they’re down. At the beginning of the season, that’s something that we struggled with a little bit.”
The second set saw the Hornets have to come-from-behind again. Trailing 17-14, Wilson finished on an 11-3 run, to take a 2-0 advantage. Johnson had 5 kills during the finishing stretch.
There was less drama in the final set. The Hornets broke things open midway through with a 14-6 run. A late Eagle comeback attempt came up short, as Hutchinson finished the match with a kill down-the-middle to advance Wilson to the C36 semifinals.
“I was glad they did not let up in the third game,” said Grove. “Sometimes, you just kind of relax as you’ve won the first two. They really pushed hard and came out strong.”
Emma Nargi and Hutchinson each provided seven kills, while Davis finished with 6. Setters Cheridan Hatfield and Emma Harrison combined for 30 assists, while Grace Carter had a team-high 10 digs.
Up next for the Hornets is a Thursday match against top-seeded Buffalo Gap on the road.
“We’ve got to give it our all, play hard and don’t let down,” said Johnson of the semifinal meeting with the Bison. “I think we’re ready to play.”