Fairbanks’ Anna Higbee (15) sends a heated spike over the net into Lady Roughrider territory. The Lady Panthers went on to sweep West Jefferson on Thursday. Also pictured for FHS is Grace Gorton, left. (Journal-Tribune photo by Aleksei Pavloff)
The Lady Panthers claimed another volleyball sweep at home on Thursday.
Scores of the match were 25-11, 25-13, 26-24 against West Jefferson.
The Lady Roughriders took Fairbanks out of the frying pan and into the fire in the match’s third and final set.
“I think the first two sets we played very disciplined and together,” Fairbanks head coach Ryanne Ufferman said. “The third game we just kind of sat back and waited for the game to come to us.”
The Lady Panthers jumped to a quick 18-7 lead in the first set.
Staying vigilant, Fairbanks seemingly adjusted mid-play to whatever West Jefferson was serving its direction.
Some of West Jefferson’s points came in the form of well-placed spikes where no opposing player could reach.
The Lady Panthers, however, easily claimed the first set with the team reconvening for the second game showing confidence.
At the start of the ensuing game, Fairbanks got right back on track.
An ace by Olivia Vollrath reminded West Jefferson that this was not going to be a stroll in the park.
After tying the match at 1-1, the Lady Panthers jumped to a 4-1 lead after a tag-team block by Claudia Mueller and Anna Higbee.
A well-placed spike by Higbee followed by an ace from Mueller increased the lead to 6-2 as the Lady Panthers quickly gained offensive momentum.
West Jefferson’s defensive performance was all over the place as the squad failed to communicate on key defensive plays.
After FHS climbed to a 12-8 lead, West Jefferson opted to call a timeout just as things started to get overwhelming on its end of the court.
Knocking on victory’s door, the Lady Panthers won the set when Kaelynn Sphapmixay’s ace serve sealed the deal.
Fairbanks seemingly got too comfortable early in the third set.
As a result, West Jefferson took a 5-1 lead.
A spike from Higbee connected with two opposing players. However, the ball soared out of bounds, cutting FHS’ deficit to 5-2.
Fairbanks regained some offensive power, thanks to a bustling home crowd, and tied the game 6-6.
The Riders, though, took a 10-7 edge as the battle went back-and-forth.
The Lady Roughriders kept the fire on Fairbanks by taking the lead to 12-9.
A Rider defensive error cut the lead down to 12-10 as the Lady Panthers tried to claw their way to a sweep.
Another ace by Vollrath tied the match at 13-13 before FHS took a 14-13 edge.
After a 14-14 deadlock, Fairbanks took a 15-14 lead on a Lady Roughrider error.
However, a West Jeff block cut FHS’ lead to 16-15 in an already heated exchange.
“Credit to West Jefferson; they blocked the ball very well and got a lot of great touches on us,” said Ufferman. “We didn’t respond the best.”
West Jefferson took a 20-19 lead after a block forced Fairbanks to call a timeout and regroup. Anna Mueller’s blast to the opposite side of the court later gave the Lady Panthers a 21-20 edge.
“I was trying to hold my timeout to let them play through a little bit and see how we responded,” Ufferman said.
The Lady Rough Riders took the Lady Panthers to task by tying the score at 22-22.
Another Fairbanks error gave West Jefferson a 23-22 edge, forcing the Lady Panthers to call another timeout.
Another hard-placed hit by Sphapmixay tied the match at 23-23.
Zoe Schmidt’s ace serve then gave FHS a 24-23 advantage.
“I think I was just trying to get them to bring the energy,” Ufferman said. “Even though we hadn’t played with it for how many points, here we have a game of five, so let’s get it.”
As if a higher power wanted to see battle, West Jefferson tied the match once again at 24-24.
The Lady Panthers then took a 25-24 lead.
The third set came to an end after Vollrath scored the team’s 26th point of the set for the victory.
The Lady Panthers (12-8) are slated to compete against West Liberty-Salem (17-2 overall) on Tuesday, starting at 7 p.m. for varsity.
FHS stats are as follows:
-Cayden Breneman, four kills,; Higbee 17 kills,; Anna Mueller two kills,; Claudia Mueller, five kills; Schmidt, nine kills; Sphapmixay, nine kills.