Chris Marlin The Portland Leader
The Portland volleyball team punched their ticket to a second consecutive state tournament.
The team earned the berth by defeating Hume-Fogg in three sets in a sectional match at home last Thursday. The Lady Panthers posted a 26-24 win in the opening game, won a 25-21 decision in the middle set and earned a ticket to the state this week by posting a 25-23 decision.
“We had a lot of nerves tonight,” coach Rob Lesemann said amid the celebration with players and fans.” We are very happy to defeat this team in three sets. Hume-Fogg is a good team.”
The first game was an indication of the entire match as the biggest margin by either squad was three points and there were 11 ties. The Lady Knights led 23-22 and 24-23 before the Purple scored the final three points including a Marlayna Bullington kill for the 26-24 margin of victory.
In the middle set, the Purple trailed 3-2 early, but took the lead for good at 10-8 on a Bullington kill. The advantage was extended to five on three different occasions and the Lady Panthers went on for the 25-21 victory.
Portland cruised to a 7-0 edge in the final set and stretched that to nine, 10-1. The Lady Knights would chip away at the lead and would cut the deficit to one, 22-21 and later trailed 24-23 before the Lady Panthers clinched the win with the set’s final point.
“We weren’t fluid tonight,” Lesemann remarked. “We couldn’t be prouder of the girls and very proud of our seniors Marlayna Bullington and Presley Cowan.
Both seniors talked about their feelings heading into the sectional match with Hume-Fogg.
“It is emotional with this being our last time playing on this court,” Bullington said. “We were very confident, and this makes us one step closer to our goal.”
“I’m always nervous before any match,” Cowan said. “Tonight, I was super nervous. We have worked hard this season. Hume-Fogg has really improved since we played them earlier in the season.”
In the three-game sweep of the Lady Knights, Bullington had a trio of aces, 20 kills and 13 digs with Katie Crutchfield also recorded three aces along with seven kills and 12 digs. Presley Cowan contributed four kills.
Savanah Pippin netted seven kills and a pair of digs. Josie Runyon came up with seven digs Emily Rogers had 20 digs and Ashton Hoffman and Qierra Gregory combined for four digs. Gregory also came up with three aces.
Portland advanced to the sectional match by claiming the Region 6 crown at Camden last Tuesday. In the opening match, the Lady Panthers met Fairview and won 25-9, 25-11, 25-10.
“I was happy with the way we played against Fairview,” Lesemann commented. “They were a big team, but we had more ball control and more firepower. We were happy to get them in three sets.
Bullington led the way with 20 kills and 19 digs and an ace with Crutchfield providing six aces, six kills, a pair of assists, and 10 digs. Rogers recorded four aces, 14 digs and five assists while Runyon contributed 36 assists, two kills and 10 digs.
Pippin finished with seven kills, Hoffman had four aces and a single kill. Anna McGlothlin netted two kills, Cowan pitched in with five kills and Gregory had a trio of digs.
In the region championship contest against Camden, the Lady Panthers faced off against Camden for the region crown. The Purple won the opening set, 25-17, but fell in the second 11-25. Portland rebounded with identical 25-21 wins in games three and four to claim their seventh region title in school history
“This was fun to be a part of,” Lesemann said. “We are proud of the win. It was a good match and both teams hit the ball well and played good defense.”
The Lady Panthers won by eight points in the first set, but Lesemann knew Camden would bounce back.
“I think Camden was a little too excited in the first set and we took advantage of that,” Lesemann said. “In the second set, Camden beat us to death. We couldn’t do anything right and they could do no wrong. That was the best I had seen a team play against us all season.”
The final two games were see-saw battles with both squads fighting hard for every point.
“The last two matches are what I was expecting from Camden,” Lesemann said. “It would go 10-10, 11-11, 12-12. Neither team could get any distance from the other. Camden is a good team.”
Bullington had game highs in kills and digs with 27 and 23 respectively while Crutchfield netted an ace, one assist, 10 kills and 19 digs. Rogers had a pair of assists along with 27 digs and Runyon claimed 49 assists, two kills and eight digs.
Pippin recorded seven kills and three digs, Cowan contributed six kills, and Gregory came up with six digs and one ace. Hoffman finished with one ace, McGlothlin netted one dig and Rayleigh Hester rounded out the stats with one dig.