Deep into the second set Friday at Millsaps College, it appeared that Vancleave might be headed to the MHSAA Class II volleyball final.
Then the height and overall talent of two-time defending champion Lewisburg took over and Vancleave came out on the short end of a 20-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-15 decision.
“We played a really good team in Lewisburg, the back-to-back state champs,” said Vancleave coach Haley Chatham. “I’m pleased with the way we played.”
After winning the first set, Vancleave rallied from a 12-5 deficit in the second set to take a 19-18 lead on a service winner by freshman Payton McKerchie. But Lewisburg responded by scoring five straight points on its way to evening the match.
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Lewisburg led all the way in the final two sets to advance to today’s championship match with Oxford.
“We got our little nerves out of the way,” Lewisburg coach Allison Burchyett said. “We were able to clean up our serve and we cut our errors.”
Vancleave was led by McKerchie with nine kills, 20 service points and two aces, Cheyenne Strickland with 10 kills and Sydney Salter with 23 digs.
For Lewisburg, Elena Johnson had 18 kills and Kelsey Gasper 15 kills. Chatham felt that Lewisburg’s size with two 5-10 players, was a key. “We’re small.”
Vancleave finishes 28-7. “The season was great,” Chatham said.
Lewisburg is 26-12, but has lost twice to Oxford.