|Down 2-0, PV responds to take
down top-seeded Waterford
|By Shayne Combs, SVCsportszone.com
JACKSON – As seniors Lea McFadden, Kelsey Dunn, and Savannah Smith all discussed on SVC Sports Talk this
past week, it has been a long, brutal four years playing against SVC competition; however, the gauntlet, also
known as the 14-game SVC regular season, certainly prepared PV for the district stage. Paint Valley, who was
playing in the Round of 64 for the first time since 2013, fell behind Waterford 2-0, but just like the career of these
three seniors have continuously demonstrated, the Lady Bearcats simply would not quit. The Cats clawed their
way to a tough third-set win, and then quite frankly, they dominated the match through the final two sets winning
17-25, 16-25, 25-22, 25-11, 15-10.
Even in the first two sets, Paint Valley was showing the ability to play with the No. 1 seed. The sets were tight
throughout the early and middle parts, but Waterford was able to use runs to take control of the match.
From that point, the Paint Valley serving started to play a major role. All totaled, Paint Valley recorded 21 aces
(Dunn 7, McFadden 4, Abbi Stanforth 4, Kayla Chapman 2, Olivia Smith 2, S. Smith 2), and even the tough
serving that did not result in a direct point was certainly starting to take Waterford out of system. This allowed PV
to play with better pace in its offensive attack; whereas, earlier in the match, the length of Waterford at the net
was really a problem for the smaller PV hitters.
Paint Valley’s defense also went to another level in the second half of the match. McFadden, who went over 1,000
digs in her career earlier this year, started to lead by example with some incredible effort plays in the back row.
McFadden had a team-high 36 digs. Following her lead, rookies Stanforth (34 digs) and Bailey Brumfield (24 digs)
played much more relaxed in the final three sets, and they too started to make some great saves.
The result of the PV defense picking up equaled more swings for Dunn and Olivia Smith at the net. Dunn was
outstanding. The senior, who had 22 kills in PV’s sectional title win last week, had 18 kills and five blocks in
Thursday’s win. Olivia Smith, another freshman, overcame a slow start to produce a great all-around night. Smith
had eight kills, two aces (both in fifth set), 24 digs, and five blocks.
The senior setters, Savannah Smith and McFadden, did a good job giving the hitters opportunities throughout the
match. Smith had 20 assists and McFadden dished out 15.
With the win, the D4 bracket trims from 64 to 32, and Paint Valley (9-15) is just one win away from the Sweet 16.
The Lady Bearcats will return to Jackson on Saturday to play Portsmouth Notre Dame.