North slips out of 'Betsy snare

By Ivan Sanders

   Growing up, I was always taught that you should never turn your back on any size of dog, especially the wee ones because they have a knack for always sneaking up on you and biting you on the behind.
   On Thursday night at A.L. Treadway Gym, the underdog Lady Cyclone volleyball team left some bite marks on the Lady Raiders before Sullivan North managed to escape with another conference win under its belt. The Lady Raiders clawed back to take Game 1 by a 15-13 tally, and took Game 2 by a 15-11 score.
   "We took the ball with intensity at them tonight," stated Lady Cyclone coach Leslee Bradley. "Our work on timing at the net this week paid off because we were able to get touches on several hard returns during the match."
   Playing probably one of their finest matches of the season the Lady Cyclones took it straight to the Lady Raiders, who have already wrapped up the regular-season title. The Lady Cyclones used strong net play from Brandi Forbes and a good serving game by Rachel Osborne in a highly competitive Game 1 to fluster the Lady Raiders.
   Sticking to North like molasses, the Lady Cyclones were able to stay within one point for most of the game. Behind two service points by Holly Pearson, EHS evened the game at 9-9 late in the stanza.
   Emilee Berry then staked the Lady 'Clones to a 13-9 advantage before a side-out allowed the Lady Raiders to cut the lead to 13-10. North's Shyan Redmond then closed the door on EHS with five straight service points to take Game 1 after the Cyclones couldn't sink the stake into the Raiders on their serving opportunity.
   "There is no excuse for the way we played tonight," said Lady Raider coach Vicki McGlothlin after the match. "We did have two starters out, including our big hitter, but the girls came in here taking the Lady Cyclones for granted with no one really wanting to step up and take leadership."
   Game 2 was as exciting as the first, with senior Michelle Collins leading the Lady Cyclone charge with great play up front as well as making several tremendous saves on errantly hit balls.
   Neither team seemed poised to take the lead as there were several side-outs before the Lady Cyclones finally were able to put together some great volley action to take a 5-2 lead on the serving strength of Pearson.
   North responded quickly to regain the momentum, with Redmon once again being a thorn in the flesh of the Lady Cyclones by recording five straight service points to edge her team out by a 7-5 score. Lauran Marlow then nailed two points for EHS to even the scoreboard at 7-7.
   Amanda Vanover followed by giving her team the lead for good as she collected three points for the Lady Raiders. The Cyclones could pull no closer than 13-10 as North took a big sigh of relief as Arissa Vaughn collected the final two points to bring the match to an end.
   "We had a goal of going undefeated in the conference," stated a relieved McGlothlin. "I am not pleased with out performance at all tonight, but I will definitely take the win."
   The contest proved two things to the Lady Cyclones. One, it showed they can go toe-to-toe with a big dog like the Lady Raiders and secondly they still have life left in their season.
   Said Bradley: "This was a perfect game for us. We've struggled all season, but we have proved that we are not ready to give up. Even though we have some things to still improve on, this game will provide a lot of motivation heading into the district tournament. It was a very encouraging match!"
   With the win, Sullivan North runs their overall record to 21-13 and 7-0 in the conference with one final conference game left at Johnson County. Elizabethton drops to 3-20 overall and 0-7 in the conference, but with a little momentum heading into their tournament.