Cornerstone volleyball rallies to beat Oak Hall


Cornerstone players celebrate a point against Oak Hall on Thursday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 12, 2012 at 12:22 a.m.

After winning the first set and looking good in the second game, the momentum that Oak Hall had built Thursday night against Cornerstone Academy started to dwindled.

And once the Cougars, behind outstanding play from senior Tori Mantel, pulled out that second set, the confidence only continue to grow for Cornerstone.

Mantel had 12 kills, 16 digs, five aces and two blocks in leading the Cougars to a 3-1 victory over the Eagles — 22-25, 25-23, 25-16, 25-22 — before a vocal crowd in a Dig Pink event at Oak Hall.

The victory improved Cornerstone to 15-6 on the season. The Cougars, in only their second year in district play with the FHSAA, are a strong contender for district, regional and possibly Final Four in Class 2A.

“In the first set, we kind of got into their game plan rather than our own,” said Cornerstone coach Stephanie Wyatt. “And then we came in with aggressive servicing and strong passing so we could run a fast offense. Once we had some momentum, we continued to push.”

The Cougars had 12 aces in the match.

Blair Guerry had four aces, along with four digs and six kills while freshman libero Sydney Richeson had two aces and 27 digs. Haley Grooms had one ace, nine digs, six kills and five blocks.

Ahead 8-3 early in the second game, Oak Hall (11-12) held onto to a 17-13 after a kill from Kelsie Tebbett. But an ace from Richeson capped a 6-2 Cougar run, tying the game at 19. Two Eagle errors gave Cornerstone a 25-23 win.

“We should have won the second game,” said Oak Hall longtime coach Cari Martin. “Had we won the second game, we would have won the match.

“Basically the players for me that need to step up and have been stepping up are the ninth- and 10th-graders. But the ninth- and 10th-grader comes out when it starts getting tough. I have to give it to give it to Cornerstone for hanging in there. They are clearly a very talented team. They could have thrown in the towel.”

With the score tied at 14-all in the third game, the Cougar dominated the stretch run, getting a pair of aces and kill from Guerry, and ending the match with a Mantel ace for a 25-16 win.

The Eagles, down early in set four, rallied to pull within one at 21-20. But Mantel took over from there, scoring on a drop shot and getting a couple of kills. Bridgette Cook's spike clinched the game and match for Cornerstone at 25-22 in the fourth.

“That second game was the momentum change for us, the belief set back in and we knew we could do it,” Wyatt said. “We swung down the line and got a few kills out of Tori and Jenny Wing that set the tone.

“Tori was a great encourager on the court tonight. She really stepped up. She made some great decisions. She played smart volleyball.”

Oak Hall was led by sophomore Sky Martin with nine kills and 23 digs, along with Savannah Clark with eight kills and 11 digs. Senior libero McKenzie Hollen had 21 digs.

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