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Cedar Bluff outlasts Appalachian in volleyball subregional

Cedar Bluff’s Russell Givens stretches for a block against Appalachian during their volleyball subregional match on Thursday. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

CEDAR BLUFF – All Cedar Bluff senior middle hitter Erin McFry could hear in her mind was volleyball coach Lyndsey Barker Mullins saying ‘Get your serve in.’

Trailing 13-7 in the fifth set of their Class 1A subregional match with Appalachian on Thursday, McFry got her serves in – seven in a row, in fact – to give help the Lady Tigers their first lead.

Fellow senior middle hitter Russell Givens put the exclamation point on McFry’s serves by coming up with the match’s final kill to send the Lady Tigers back to the North Regional in Huntsville. Cedar Bluff rallied for a 19-25, 25-9, 16-25, 25-16, 16-14 victory.

“We were just working hand in hand,” McFry said. “Me and Russell have been working at this for a long time. For us to be on completely opposite ends of the court and for us to play together like that, that was really cool.”

“Erin’s serves have been the key this entire season. She’s probably the best server we have on the team,” Givens said. “She’s very consistent with it too. I believe in her.”

While McFry had her head coach on her mind while serving down the stretch, Givens had something else on her mind on the match’s final point.

“That last point, I was telling myself ‘We’ve worked this hard, you have to put it down. This is your last chance’, so I did it,” Givens said.

Mullins said it was only fitting McFry and Givens were the catalysts for the Lady Tigers in the clutch. Givens collected 27 kills, two digs, two aces and a block, while McFry managed 12 kills, three digs, two aces and two blocks.

“Both of them played lights out tonight,” she said. “They say big-time players have to step up in big-time games, and they did that tonight.”

But every point the Lady Tigers (16-14) scored, Appalachian (20-14) made them earn.

“I was swinging as hard as I could, but they were just picking it up,” Givens said. “They move their feet really well. Even when we tried to tip in some of the empty spots, they still hustled and got the ball. They did a good job.”

“Any time we tried to put it down, they were always coming back,” McFry said. “They played really hard to just keep the ball off the floor. Any time they saw a place where we weren’t, they were going to come at that spot. We worked really hard to keep it off the floor too, but they worked equally as hard trying to keep it off the floor, playing up anything they could.”

Mullins said she was proud of how well her team responded, and not just from Tuesday’s adversity.

The Lady Tigers were forced to miss the Cherokee County Tournament and several other matches after being in quarantine from COVID-19 for two weeks. They’ve just been back on the court for a week.

“For them to face that, for them to see our season almost taken away from us, I think it’s added a fire to us,” Mullins said. “This just feels so good for them. It feels right. I’m just excited for them.
“We lost six (seniors) from last year, and everyone thought this team was rebuilding, but I’ve been telling them the whole time there’s a standard we’ve set here, and I expect them to rise to that occasion. Tonight I think they absolutely surpassed that.”

Maggie Clowdis added 40 assists, three kills, two digs and one ace for the Lady Tigers. Jordyn Walker posted 19 digs and a kill. Emma Haney had five kills, five aces and two digs. Graceland Benton finished with seven digs and and a pair of kills.

Cedar Bluff plays the winner of Friday’s Ragland-Covenant Christian subregional on Wednesday to open North Regional play at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville at 10 a.m.

Cedar Bluff’s Erin McFry, right, makes a kill attempt against Appalachian during their Class 1A subregional match on Thursday. Photo by Shannon Fagan.
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