Hurley rally sinks Sparta in three sets

Turn out the lights. The party is over. And what a party it was as the Hurley Lady Tigers stormed the court Thursday night in Hurley to celebrate a three set come-from-behind victory over a surprising and very game Sparta Lady Trojans.

Seemingly out and on their way to an early defeat, the heavily favored Lady Tigers bounced back from a 25-19 opening set loss to slip past the Trojans by the narowest of margins in the second and third sets, 25-23, 25-23.

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"We didn't start out playing like a team. We weren't working together," said senior Tiger outside hitter Caitlin Chambers in discussing their victory over the Trojans. "But coach Dhondt told us, between sets, that we needed to put our heads on straight and start working together as a team. That's just what we did and we came back to win."

"I don't really know what happened for sure. We just kind of fell apart," said Olivia Tabor who also plays an outside hitters spot. "But we never really doubted ourselves. I just knew that this was our house and I didn't want to lose."

The Tigers found themselves trailing the Spartans 5-0 in the opening set and never really recovered. Although they pulled to within just two points down the stretch, 21-19, they never led at any point in the set.

The second set was nip and tuck throughout the game with Hurley pulling it out on a Trojan error. That set up the stage for a classic third and final set.

Both teams fought hard throughout the contest with neither team showing any signs of weakening. But with the score 22-21 in favor of Hurley, senior Lexi Winfree took over.

Winfree registered two kills, and with the score at 24-23, drilled a hard shot up the middle of the court to notch the 25-23 victory for the Cats.

"I got two kills to keep us out in front when it mattered the most and I hit a hard shot down the middle for the win," Winfree said. "It really felt good to walk off the court with a victory. I'm really happy with my effort tonight."

Winfree got a boost of confidence from Tiger setter Hailey Chamberlain.

"Hailey is really good about talking to me. She told me you're going to get a kill so go up and swing as hard as you can," she said. "That's just what I did, I went up and swung as hard as I could and it paid off for all of us."

With the victory Hurley moves their season mark up to 5-1. Sparta fell to 0-6-2.

"Hurley is a very good team and they played us well tonight, but this loss really hurts. A couple of points here and there and our girls get a win tonight. But I'm very proud of them, they fought hard all they way," Trojan head coach Emily Winkle said. "We haven't gotten a victory this year but our kids have played some quality volleyball. They keep improving so I think they're on the verge of winning a bunch of games."

Tiger head coach Melissa Dhondt was equally proud of her girls.

"We started out flat tonight," Dhondt said. "But we've been working on getting our energy and intensity levels up to stay on top of our game. Sometimes those things come together for you and sometimes they don't. Tonight, for our girls, they came together and they got a big win."

Game Scores 1 – 2 – 3 – F

Sparta          25 – 25 – 23  -1

Hurley          19 – 25 – 25 – 2