By Michael Lindsay
The Stone Memorial Lady Panthers opened the week with a non-district volleyball victory over White County on Monday, 3-1.
Monday’s win follows Stone Memorial’s first district loss last Thursday as they fell to Upperman.
“It’s hard to come back from a loss like we did last Thursday against Upperman, but I also think it lit a fire in my defense,” said Lady Panther head coach Tori Permenter. “My defense killed it today, and we really focused on spreading the wealth with our hitters.”
Stone Memorial took the first two sets by a 25-23 and 27-25 margin before White County won the third set, 30-28. The Lady Panthers bounced back to win the fourth set, 25-16 for the 3-1 victory.
“Logan is a great coach at White County and I wasn’t expecting anything less,” Permenter said. “It’s always tight with them and they hustle. I thought we showed really good mental toughness; that’s where we want to be. In postseason, it’s going to be all tight games.”
Stone Memorial’s Mikinzie Borngrebe recorded a career-high 28 digs in the victory while Sophia Johns posted 42 assists and 9 digs. Emma Slone and Adyson Bennett posted 14 digs each.
Amy Gunderson led the Lady Panthers offensively with 14 kills, followed by Lucy Grothe with 13, Hailee McDonald with 10 and Kortney Headrick with 9.
After a neck-and-neck first set saw neither team lead by more than 3 points. White County held a 22-20 lead late in the set before Stone Memorial rallied to outscore the Warriorettes 5-1 to close the 25-23 victory via a Gunderson kill.
The second set resembled the first as the teams were tied at 22 each before Stone pulled away, 27-25.
The Lady Panthers looked poised to run away with the sweep in the third set as they opened the set on an 8-0 run.
White County didn’t go away quietly, however, as the Warriorettes clawed back to take a 23-22 lead over Stone Memorial. The teams traded blows until White County put together back-to-back points to win the third set 30-28 via a Josie Williams kill.
“They (Sparta) made some great plays in the third set,” Permenter said. “I don’t think we necessarily played bad, but our mistakes were too close together.”
Stone Memorial responded as the Lady Panthers took control of the fourth set from the jump. Stone Memorial held a 17-9 lead via a Headrick kill before closing the set 25-16 to win the match 3-1.
“I the girls we need to make a statement,” Permenter said. “It was nice to come out in the fourth set an not have to win a close one.”
Stone Memorial takes the court again on Tuesday in a tri-match with Rhea County and Soddy Daisy. Stone will then hit the road to Livingston Academy for the UCR Volleyball Game of the Week as they face the Lady Wildcats in a battle for first place in District 7AA. White County is scheduled to host Smyrna tonight and Wilson Central on Thursday.