ANACONDA — Despite an inspired comeback effort by the Copperheads, the Florence Falcons won the Thursday night match 25-13, 25-20, 20-25, 25-21 but were challenged until the very end.
Florence started strong in the first set and appeared like they would run away with the match. Excellent serving by Anaconda’s Sami Johnson won five consecutive points, but the Copperheads lost the first set 25-13.
"We started off really cold," said Anaconda volleyball coach Korey Rivers. "Then we went with a different lineup in the second set and that seemed to help. We just waited too long to wake up."
Despite trailing the Falcons, the Copperheads showed noticeable resiliency and a will to make the comeback. Down by more than eight points, the Copperheads rallied back to within three points but dropped the second set 20-25.
The third set was among the most competitive of the night. The Copperheads got off to a good start and built a five point lead. But it was not long until the Falcons rallied back and tied the set at 13.
"I think they did a good job of staying focused especially with it being homecoming week. There's a million things going on," Rivers said. "I think our defense was lights out but we'll definitely be working on serving in practice."
After recording an ace, Florence’s Jaidyn Larson won two consecutive points to give the Falcons a one-point lead. But neither team could pull away late in the third set.
Sami Johnson served well again in the third set where the Copperheads created some separation at 22-19. They built their lead to 24-20 before Maniyah Lunceford tipped the ball over the net to earn Anaconda’s first set of the night.
"I thought Malia (Harris) played really well in the back row," Rivers said. "Some of her digs were just amazing and she never gives up. She's such a leader on our team and does the right stuff. I'm glad she played well in her senior homecoming."
The Copperheads road their momentum into the fourth set where they forced a Falcons timeout with a lead of 9-5. The timeout was a good call as the Falcons went on to tie the game at 10.
Down 23-17, the Copperheads won three consecutive points but lost the fourth set 25-21.
Makena Patrick led the Copperheads in kills with 13 while Maniyah Lunceford and Alyssa Peterson added eight kills. Patrick also had 19 assists and an impressive 22 assists. Sami Johnson had 21 assists and an ace.
Anaconda will travel to Mission on Saturday while Florence will play a road game against Jefferson on Saturday.