By Maurice Patton
CULLEOKA — Santa Fe first-year volleyball coach Breanna Wallen wasn’t opposed to the drama that came with Monday’s cross-county matchup against Culleoka.
“I’d rather them be this exciting,” Wallen said after her visiting Lady Wildcats rallied back from an early two-set deficit and won the decisive fifth set 15-13 to improve to 2-4 and offset an earlier loss. ”We showed up and played tonight.
“(The girls) had to go out and change the way they played, not worry about what the other team is doing. It makes a difference when you focus on yourself and your teammates.”
The Lady Warriors (3-4) seemingly had all the momentum from the outset, edging Santa Fe by consecutive 25-23 scores with sophomore Vallie Stanfill and senior Breanna Dickson alternately dominating at the net.
“They’re ‘beasts’,” Culleoka coach Justice Pilkinton said of her twin towers.
However, Santa Fe regrouped in the third set and blasted its way to a 25-11 decision.
“We made the adjustments,” Wallen said. “We started to rely on each other. It became a ‘team’ game instead of a ‘me’ game. And we kept our attitudes positive.”
Culleoka fell just short of putting the game away with a 25-23 loss in the fourth set, cutting a three-point deficit to one before the visitors scored a defensive point to force the fifth set.
“I think my girls got nervous,” Pilkinton said. “We started handing the ball over instead of setting it up; we got precautious instead of aggressive.”
In the final set, Santa Fe once again took control and held on late behind senior hitter Lacy Warf and junior setter Elise Adkison.
“I think we had a lot of leaders that stepped up and took care of business,” Wallen said. “Lacy was the only senior on the floor; she did a good job. And Elise did a good job of setting. Our defense protected the center of thee court and protected against the deep ball.”
Pilkinton was complimentary of Santa Fe’s performance.
“They were definitely better than the last time they played us,” the third-year Lady Warrior coach said. “Our girls kept it together. We just fell a little short.”
Culleoka returns to District 6-A play Tuesday against visiting Community, before another league matchup at home Thursday against Eagleville. Santa Fe, with District 10-A contests against Harpeth and Hickman County canceled because of pandemic measures, does not play again until Sept. 24 against visiting East Hickman.
Lady Tigers sweep: Mt. Pleasant swept host Giles County in three sets Monday, winning 25-19, 25-16, 25-15.
Turnabout: After scoring 18 goals in a pair of wins last week, Zion Christian was shut out Monday by visiting Battle Ground Academy. The defending Division II-A state champion Lady Wildcats won a 9-0 decision. BGA, which led 6-0 at intermission, got two goals each from Sara Evans, Kennedy Price and Sophia Donoghue with Sarah May, Cat Schreiber and Keaton Mitchell rounding out the scoring.