PIKEVILLE – It’ll be a senior night to remember for Haley Johnson after helping her University of Pikeville volleyball team outlast visiting Kentucky Christian 3-2 on Tuesday night at UPIKE Gym.
The Bears trailed 2-1 heading into the fourth set where they came alive for a 25-13 win to force a fifth and final frame. That one took a while, and had plenty of ups and downs, but ultimately UPIKE tallied a 20-18 win to bring things to a close with two straight kills from Kaitlyn Welsh.
Add Johnson to the list of Bears making big plays in the fifth set as she was on serve with things tied up at 13-13. Her first attempt was an ace, giving her the chance to win the final point, but Kentucky Christian’s Abigail McIhany evened things back up.
From there, UPIKE (12-18) earned five more match points, but wasn’t able to close until Welsh gave it her all for a pair of tough kills.
Cassidy Tackett posted a trio of career highs in the win, including 11 kills, nine blocks and an assist. It was an efficient effort with the kills coming on 22 swings for a .409 percentage and four of the blocks were solos. Behind Tackett’s play, UPIKE outhit the Knights .258 to .129.
Sydney Hall tallied a career-high 18 kills and Connor Cook also reached a career-best mark with 17. Not surprising with all the big attack numbers, setter Savanna Zakman also had a career night with 52 assists, as well as Rachel Murphy with a career-best 30 digs.
While Tackett had the big night defensively, Hall was right behind her with six blocks and Hall and Zakman also chipped in with 11 and 10 digs, respectively.
Kentucky Christian (16-10) got its best effort from Bailey Lotozo with 14 kills and McIhany adding 13. Annika Rigney paced KCU with 30 assists and Mackenzie Rigney found 16 digs.
The night started off right for the Bears as they built a 17-8 lead in the first set before watching the lead nearly disappear after a 7-0 Knight run. Luckily UPIKE woke up and outscored KCU 7-4 the rest of the way to take the 1-0 lead.
UPIKE went on to post leads as high as five points in the second set and three in the third, but a determined Kentucky Christian attack led to it claiming 25-23 and 25-22 comeback wins.
Not looking to accept defeat, the Bears never trailed in the fourth set, building leads as high as 12 points at 23-11 before winning on a kill from Hall.
In the final frame, a quick set and spike by Tackett in the middle of the court gave UPIKE a 12-10 lead, but KCU rallied back with three straight points to take its final lead of the match. From there it was tied six times before Welsh put away the two final strikes.