Thursday, March 30, 2017 - Updated: 11:39 AMMurphysboro’s Mike Layne and his Blue Devils were all that stood in the way of Massac County’s Lady Trojans and their head coach Zach Miller in their quest for back to back state championships.
But it turned out that was enough as the ‘Devils turned aside “the good guys” in a three set thriller that was action packed from beginning to end.
Murphy took the SIJHSAA Class L title after dropping the opening set to the Lady Trojans 21-25. Murphy came back to even things up winning the second set 25-20. The 15-point tie break was “an instant classic” as neither team could establish a cushion and the largest lead of the set was a four point margin [11-7] held briefly by Murphy.
In Saturday’s opening round play, Massac dispatched of Salem 25-8 in the first set powered by a 14-0 run to start the match. The girls got “sleepy” then and dropped the second set 23-25. But they woke up mad and behind Kaylee Batha’s serving, shut out Salem 15-0 to move on.
The second match had a bit of sibling rivalry going on as the girls faced DuQuoin and their coach Isaac Miller, who just happens to be Zach’s brother.
The first set against DuQuoin was fairly easy for Massac winning 25-12 but the second set was another thing as DuQuoin extended the lady Trojans to 26-24 before succumbing. Massac was in danger of dropping the second set to DuQuoin but a crazy play by Jenna Bunting on a ball which would have ended the set at 25-20 gave the ladies new life and they responded by scoring the next six points for a gut-wrenching 26-24 win.
Which brings us to the title match. Murphy took the first set 25-21 with Massac returning the favor in the second by a 25-20 count. The tie break looked to be going to Murphy’s way rather routinely as the Blue Devils got out to an 11-7 lead before Massac’s Ashley Davis got a kill at the net sending Madison Hammonds to the service line for a four point run and a whole new ball game.
The next six points were trade-offs before Murphy took the last two to secure the 16-14 win.
It was a shame that someone had to lose, but as in all sporting events, there’s a winner and there’s a loser. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. That’s what builds character.
The 33 wins by Massac ties a school record for wins to go against just two losses.