Lady Warriors into Big East final

Hunt regains momentum, stops Fike in 5

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Ah, the mystique of momentum.

The host Hunt High varsity volleyball team owned it; Fike stole it; and, with a vengeance, Hunt was the final possessor.

The Lady Warriors (13-8) capitalized with a 15-5 conquest in the fifth set to outlast archrival Fike 25-19, 25-21, 17-25, 18-25, 15-5 in the 3-A Big East Conference tournament semifinals Tuesday evening.

The third conquest of the Lady Golden Demons (11-12) this season vaulted Hunt, the No. 2 seed, into Thursday’s championship match at 7 p.m. at regular-season champion Franklinton, also the reigning regular-season and tournament queen.

“It took a couple of players really stepping up, taking charge and executing,” commented Hunt head coach Tiffany Rowe. “We turned it around by coming together and being aggressive.”

Rowe hailed a team effort, singling out junior Brianna Moore and seniors Michaela Evans and Allyson Matthews.

Evans served for four aces as the Lady Warriors bolted to 3-0, 10-3 and 14-3 margins. Moore’s serving jump-started the Hunt recovery. Junior Alea Jones delivered a kill and junior Meghan Martinez executed a tip. A Fike error ended the spectators’ treat.

“We talked more,” Evans, a co-captain, explained, “and we brought our hype back up. I told the girls we had to play hard no matter what. I know it was Hunt-Fike, but we had to play like we had been playing — like we played the first set. We had to push.”

First-year Fike head coach Brent Secrest cited his team’s missed serves in the decisive set.

“We were not getting good hits,” he added. “We were giving them all free balls.”

Hunt took command from the outset in the fifth set and, with 6-foot-3 senior Ashleigh Sage rotating out, Fike’s comeback firepower diminished.

Hunt’s opening-set win feature the serving of junior Greysen Evans and a set-ending kill from Martinez. Fike owned 6-5, 11-10 and 13-11 leads in the second set before Hunt rallied. A pair of kills from Jones and an ace from sophomore Jessica Waddell sent the Lady Warriors to a 2-0 advantage.

But No. 3 Fike clicked the next two sets behind Sage (seven kills and 10 blocks), junior Reece Nelson, juniors Keyley Shackleford, Caroline Searcy, E.J. Secrest, Anna Black and Taylor Boykin; and sophomores Kendall Harris and Payton Lentz.

Fike will oppose Southern Nash in a match to decide the Big East’s No. 3 representative in the 3-A playoffs, but a site and time has not been determined.