HENDERSONVILLE - The Beech Lady Buccaneers and Portland Lady Panthers renewed their old District 9-AAA rivalry Thursday night in Hendersonville.
Just like old times the two teams battled for five sets, with this year’s matchup going to the hometown Bucs 3-2 (12-25, 25-21, 25-21, 18-25, 16-14).
The match did not start out well for Beech, losing the first set by 13 after 20 unforced errors derailed Tim Carlson’s team.
The Lady Bucs bounced back to win the next two sets, by four each, but again unforced errors reared their head in the fourth set.
“I was tempted to stop keeping track of those errors,” Carlson said. “Especially in that fourth set; we had seven balls hit into the net. That said, I love the energy we brought and the ability to fight back. I saw a lot of dedication from our team tonight. The girls were relentless.”
Beech jumped out to a sizable 11-2 lead in the fifth and final game, before Portland battled back to tie the set at 14. The Lady Bucs won the next two points for the 16-14 match-point victory.
“That resilience to not give up was incredible to see,” Carlson said. “Our crowd tonight was incredible and I really believe the girls fed off of them. I hope we have more crowds like that. That was such an incredible game to watch, unless you are the coach, then it’s terrifying.”
Portland head coach Rob Lesemann also praised his team’s toughness to battle back.
“I liked how gritty my kids were tonight,” he said. “They could have laid their heads down in that fight set when we were down. We fought back and gave ourselves a chance to win. This team doesn’t stop fighting.”
Portland was without up to 80 percent of their team’s offense Thursday night with Savannah Pippen and Katie Crutchfield nursing injuries.
Despite not having the leaders on the court, Portland battled all game long to force a quality team into a tough match.
“There were a lot of girls on the floor tonight that don’t normally play with the varsity and they did a really good job,” Lesemann said. “We go five sets with a variety team when I had three freshman on the court at one time; two on the outside and one on the back row. I’m very proud of them. They went out, hit the ball hard and just did a really good job. I couldn’t be anything but happier with my kids right now.”
Beech improves to 1-0 on the season while the Lady Panthers drop to 0-3.
“We will gain a ton of confidence from this match,” Carlson added. “This game will be good for their mentality. I’m hoping this win lingers for the rest of the season. This is how you want to start off your year. An easy win doesn’t build confidence and if you start off with a loss that lingers. I think this is the best way we could have started off the 2019 season.”
Beech is back in action August 27 vs. Mt. Juliet and Portland will continue their former District 9-AAA schedule on August 26 at Station Camp.
Beech: 8/29: at Gallatin; 9/3: vs. Station Camp
Portland: 8/27: vs. Springfield; 8/29: at Macon County