The last time Strawberry Crest and George Jenkins faced off this season, the Chargers held a 2-1 lead but let the Eagles rally back to a 3-2 win in Lakeland on Sept. 23. Crest was determined not to let that happen again on Thursday night.
Once again holding a 2-1 lead after three sets, the Chargers didn’t let that bit of history repeat itself — only the one where they end the game hoisting the 6A-11 district championship, just like they did for the first time last season.
Nothing came easy for Crest or Jenkins. The Chargers rallied from an early 7-3 deficit in the first set, pulled ahead by a score of 11-10 and staved off an aggressive Eagles attack, 25-20, to take the 1-0 lead. In the second set, Crest eventually lost a 6-2 lead and stayed within four points of Jenkins until the score was 24-21 in the Eagles’ favor. The home team scored three consecutive points to tie the set at 24-24, forced two ties before taking the lead, battled the visitors to four more ties and finally pulled ahead for good to 32-30.
In the third set, the Chargers got energized by an outstanding save past the bench by outside hitter Lillian Lee that put a point on the board, cut their deficit to 8-5 and kicked off a rally that saw Crest fight to a 10-9 lead shortly afterward. Crest looked to wrap things up with a 23-17 lead but Jenkins found its second wind and battled back to get a 27-25 set win and avoid the shutout.
Getting the Eagles on the ropes and failing to seal the deal was not what the Chargers had in mind for the third set, but they didn’t take long to shake it off. Crest quickly regained its rhythm the fourth set and got out to an 11-7 lead, survived several Jenkins scoring outbursts and put the Eagles away for good, 25-21.