The Como-Pickton Lady Eagles hosted the North Hopkins Lady Panthers Tuesday, for the final regular season game of the year. The game was not only a chance for the Lady Eagles to force an extra tie-breaking game, but Senior Night for Como-Pickton.
The game was electric from the very beginning, with both schools packing the gym with fans, giving the players an opportunity to play in front of a standing-room only crowd. After a very close match in their first meeting and a chance for the district title on the line, both teams completely understood the magnitude of the situation.
Como-Pickton wasted no time to use their home crowd advantage, scoring five of the first six points and getting the crowd completely on their side. Later in the set it was senior Addi Monk who took over for a bit, racking up back-to-back kills and back-to-back aces to keep her team in front.
While North Hopkins was never able to gain a lead in the opening set, they also refused to make it easy on Como-Pickton, keeping it within one point midway through the set. The Lady Eagles never let the pressure get to them, however, closing out the set strong and taking the opening frame by a score of 25-19.
The second set was neck-and-neck in the beginning, with each teams trading points back-and-forth through the first 16 possessions. North Hopkins was able to turn their tides in their direction from their, scoring back-to-back points and never surrendering their lead for the rest of the set.
A 7-1 run from the Lady Panthers put them fully in control, leading 18-12 and forcing Como-Pickton to use both of their timeouts for the set. The Lady Eagles fought hard and kept the set within reach, but it was the Lady Panthers who held on, winning 25-19 and evening things up at one set a piece.
Now, with some momentum behind them, the Lady Panthers completely dominated the third set, looking to put the game and the district title away. While always in the driver seat, it was an 11-4 run to finish out the set that put things away, as North Hopkins won the third set by a commanding score of 25-14.
Now, with their backs against the wall and their chances for a potential district title beginning to slip away from them, the Lady Eagles opened the fourth set on fire, and the senior Monk was the one to lead the way. Monk racked up kills and blocks on four early possessions, helping give her team a 5-2 lead.
From there they never gave their lead back, and a pair of aces from junior Maggie Brown forced North Hopkins to use their first timeout of the set with the score 10-6. Later in the set Monk went on another ridiculous run, picking up kills on four consecutive possessions, and extending their lead to 18-11.
The Lady Panthers tried their best to slow down the Lady Eagles momentum but were unable to do so. Como-Pickton was eventually able to win the set by double-digits, winning 25-15 and forcing a fifth and final set.
Two teams who had been very evenly matched through the first nine sets of their series this season found themselves entering a 10th one, and this one, would be to decide if North Hopkins would be outright district champions, or if the two teams would have to face each other and third and final time.
Junior Sanay Diaz served to open the set, and set the tone in a major way, picking up an ace and giving the Lady Eagles a 1-0 lead. A kill from Monk and back-to-back kills from sophomore Sadie Wetzel kept the Lady Eagles in control, putting their lead at 4-2.
Just a few possessions later it was Monk’s turn to serve, and she didn’t disappoint, picking up back-to-back aces and forcing North Hopkins to use their timeout with the Lady Eagles leading 7-3. The timeout did help North Hopkins slow the momentum down a bit, and just a few possessions later the two teams were looking at a one-point game, with Como-Pickton leading just 10-9.
The Lady Eagles refused to let the opportunity get away from them, however and it was another ace from Diaz that forced North Hopkins to use their final timeout, with Como-Pickton now leading 13-10. Another kill from Monk made it game-point, and the Lady Eagles would go on to take the set, 15-11, and forcing a tie-breaking match to decide who will be crowned as the district champions.
While a time has yet to be set, the district-deciding tiebreaker will be played Friday at Sulphur Springs Middle School. For Como-Pickton, they will be playing for the first district championship in program history.