Leading the match 2-1 but looking like they were headed to a decisive fifth game, the defending area champions rallied for the next four points to win 26-24 and take the match.
The first game of the season, which Greenbrier’s Lady Wolfpack won 25-16, featured more errors than offense, but both teams seemed to find a rhythm after that. The Lady Panthers took the second game 25-16 after trailing 6-1, but the Lady Wolfpack came back in dominating fashion for a 25-14 game three victory.
“We played a lot out of system tonight,” Lady Wolfpack coach Debbie Born said. “That means pass, set, hit right away, but we were pass, set, scurry, oh my God.”
After losing six seniors from the 2012 squad, Greenbrier junior DeJhana Cotton put the team on her back at times, including the final game when she recorded kills on four of the team’s last seven points. She finished with 10 kills and four aces.
“We started getting better passes toward the end, which let us execute our middles and our outsides better,” said Cotton, calling the match a team effort. “Luckily she (setter Lauren Ingalls) started getting it to me more and I was trying to feed off her.”
The Lady Panthers showed that while they are a young team as well, they have talent to make the season an interesting one. Hitter Holly Sweeting led the way with a game-high 15 kills.
“I think we are talented,” said Lady Panthers coach Maureen McCormack. “I think we have to find a way to show it on the floor consistently.”