By JASON LYNCH
Behind stellar performances from their two seniors, The Community School battled to a memorable volleyball victory over the Carey Panthers on Tuesday night at The Fish Tank in Sun Valley.
Both teams were pushed to their limits in the five-game thriller, but the Cutthroats capitalized at the key moment in the fifth game and came out 19-25, 25-16, 25-23, 17-25, 16-14 winners in the Northside Conference 1A Division 2 clash.
It was The Community School's first volleyball win over Carey in three years.
Carey (0-3, 0-2 league) got off to a fast start in the first game behind the serving of junior Taylor Castle. A comeback by the home team brought the scores even at 12-12. That's when one of the match's many long and dramatic points (17 shots in this one) occurred.
With players from both teams diving for digs and covering the court with passes, a perfect shot by Julie Doan made it 13-12 for the Cutthroats. Junior Micaela Adamson served with the Carey advantage at 19-17 and pushed the score to 23-18 before the Panthers closed out the game 25-19.
The second and third games, both won by the Cutthroats, were highlighted by the dominant net play of Natalie Goddard who had five of her 13 kills during this stretch.
First-year Cutthroat coach Kristyn Price Rutland said, "Natalie's solid play in those two games made the difference. She has become our go-to player when we need something special."
In the tense third game, which went to 25-23, Doan's five points on serve and a good run from Sofia Carkonen turning a home side deficit into a 22-20 advantage proved decisive.
Looking to close out the Panthers in the fourth game, the Cutthroats were plagued by early mistakes and unforced errors. Carey players were slow to capitalize, but eventually seized the opportunity behind Adamson (7 kills), Castle, and Darby Northcott's solid passing to take the game 25-17.
The teams were level at two games apiece, leaving a deciding, first-to-fifteen fifth game.
With momentum being key in this shorter game, neither team could master their nerves and side-outs dominated the exchanges up through 7-7.
A huge block by the towering Carkonen made it 9-7 for the home side, but the Panthers clawed back to 9-9. Back and forth went the game until a Goddard kill made it 14-12 Cutthroats. Carey again fought back to make it 14-14 before a side-out gave Goddard the chance to serve for the match.
She didn't blink, and the Cutthroats had their first win.
When the final game ended 16-14, the crowd erupted with a loud cheer, knowing it was a special win for the home team.
Coach Price Rutland was full of praise for Goddard, but also said of Doan, "She was phenomenal tonight. Julie will go and get any ball for us. She was our spark."
The coach praised her team's effort and was quick to describe the importance of the win. She said, "The team is so excited and this was really a team win. We are getting better each day and we needed a win. Beating Carey is special for us because they are a good team. This will give us a lot of confidence."
The Lady Cutthroats (1-3 overall, 1-2 league) next play at Dietrich Tuesday, Sept. 7 and host Castleford Sept. 9.