CHEYENNE – Cherisa Applehunt called timeout with her Cheyenne South volleyball team trailing Cheyenne Central 14-10 in the fifth game of their match Thursday night.
Applehunt wanted to deliver a simple message to her Lady Bison squad that was on the verge of having its rally fall short. It was a message she had delivered throughout her three seasons at the helm, and one she emphasized this week.
“I told them, ‘I’m all in if you’re all in,’” Applehunt said. “They all lit up and I could see in their eyes they wanted this match as badly as I did. I believed in them. They’re great kids with so much heart, and they believed in themselves.”
That belief helped South take the fifth game to complete the come-from-behind victory, 16-25, 21-25, 25-20, 25-23, 16-14.
Central used a 6-0 run to take control of the opening game, and a 10-0 spurt to pull ahead in the second. South (2-10 overall, 1-0 Class 4A Southeast) foreshadowed what was to come by cutting the Lady Indians’ second-game lead to 23-21 with a 7-0 run. A soft kill to the left side and a lift call helped Central escape with the 25-21 win.
“When we limit what we give other teams, we’re really good,” first-year Central coach Jessica Bratton-Vega said. “We don’t have one girl who can just go up and get a point for us, so we have to limit our mistakes. We did that in the first two games.”
South dominated the third game, leading by as much as 11. The Indians (3-10, 0-1) used an 8-0 run to take a 16-14 lead in the fourth game. The game was tied four more times, and the lead changed hands three more times after that.
Sam Wilson delivered the 25-23 victory with a pair of kills. On the second, Wilson hit a deep ball the Indians let go because they thought it was headed out.
“South is a team that fights, they played well, they gained confidence and kept coming after us,” first-year Central coach Jessica Bratton-Vega said. “We kind of shelled up, and we made too many errors. That’s been a problem for us from Day 1.
“If we give away five to 10 points, that’s hard to come back from. That’s what happened. South took advantage of our errors, gained confidence and we pulled back a little bit.”
The Indians used a 6-1 run to take a 12-6 lead in the deciding game. Junior Ava Beveridge had Central on the verge of putting the match away when she notched a kill for a 14-10 lead that forced South to call timeout.
“We wanted to win so bad, and our energy changed completely in the third game,” said South senior libero Lexi Ovsanik, who posted 23 digs. “We came together as a team and played as one. Even when we were behind in the fifth, I thought we could still come back and win.”
Wilson finished with seven kills for the Bison. Senior Kayla Lesh added 10 kills and 24 digs. Lorali Moody chipped in with 15 digs, while Serenity Wilcox added 11. Kaycia Groth and Jordynn Brennan finished with 10 digs apiece.
Central senior libero Lydia Looby posted 18 digs. Beveridge and junior Joslyn Siedenburg both had a team-best six kills, while Paige Elmstrand added five kills and five ace serves.
Central plays at top-ranked Laramie at 5 p.m. tonight. South hosts Cheyenne East at 6 p.m.