Despite the Terriers putting up a valiant fight, the Raiders came away victorious in three straight sets.
Entering the night at 7-4 on the year, Plant City volleyball made their way to Hillsborough High School last Thursday where they battled past a tough Terriers team to claim victory in three straight set.
If the match was to be judged on the first 10 minutes of the first set, Plant City would have cruised to victory as they raced out to a 12-0 lead instantly before Hillsborough finally ended the Raiders’ run at 12-1. From that point on, the Terriers began to find some momentum as they hung with Plant City point-for-point while the Raiders continued to inch closer to claiming the first set. With the Raiders leading 21-8, three consecutive points put them just one point away from taking the first set with ease as they led 24-8, but the Terriers rallied. Holding off Plant City for the moment, Hillsborough cut the lead to 24-8, then to 24-9, then to 24-10 and ultimately rattled off nine unanswered points to cut the Plant City deficit to 24-16 before a kill from Jaime Straily clinched the first set.
While less extreme than the first set, Plant City once again jumped ahead with a 4-0 run to start the second set before Hillsborough answered back with a pair of points themselves, cutting the deficit to 4-2. After taking a 6-2 lead, Plant City faltered as the Terriers once again brought the deficit down to one at 6-5 before the Raiders regrouped and extended their lead back to three with a kill from Straily, then to four as they held a 9-5 lead. Never letting themselves fall out of competition, Hillsborough rallied for seven consecutive points to tie the set, then take their first lead of the match, then extend that lead to 13-11. From that point on the second set was a dogfight, with both teams battling back and forth before Hillsborough began to pull away with a 20-16 lead. But despite their first adversity of the match, the Raiders responded as they clawed back to trail 23-21 before Hillsborough notched one more point to lead 24-21 — just one point away from knotting the match up at 1-1. Plant City won the next point to put the set at 24-22, then won a long rally on the next point to draw closer at 24-23. Hillsborough would call a timeout to try and stifle the palpable momentum building from the Raiders’ side of the court, but it would prove unsuccessful as Plant City rattled off three quick and decisive points out of the timeout to take a 2-0 lead with a 26-24 victory in the second set.
In yet another razor thin match, the Terriers and Raiders battled back-and-forth throughout the early stages of the third set, sitting deadlocked at 9-9 before five consecutive points pushed Plant City out in front at 14-9. And once again, as they had done so many times in the first two sets, Hillsborough refused to let the Raiders sit comfortably with any lead as they responded with three straight points to cut their deficit to 14-12, with Plant City ending the run to take a 15-12 lead before the Terriers came back with another run of three consecutive points to knot the set up at 15-15. Still tied at 21-21, Plant City was able to muster the strength needed to close out the contest with four straight points on kills from Olivia Ennis and Mimi Buikema, followed by a pair of stellar blocks from Caris Schneider and Jadah Terrell.
The victory over Hillsborough moved the Raiders to 8-4 as they prepare to finish their regular season at home against 0-8 Brandon on Thursday.