GC falls in four to Pensacola
By DUSTIN KENT
News Herald Assistant Sports Editor
PANAMA CITY — With Pensacola State taking the first Panhandle Conference matchup in five sets Sept. 14 in Pensacola, Gulf Coast knew it was crucial to even the series in the return match Wednesday at the Billy Harrison Field House.
Unfortunately for the Lady Commodores, the hole for them got a little deeper thanks to a four-set loss that put them down 0-2 in the five-match series between the teams. The Lady Pirates (18-2) won 25-19, 16-25, 28-26, 25-18 to take a commanding lead in the race for the Panhandle Conference title.
Now, Gulf Coast (10-6) will need to win the next three meetings between the teams to earn a spot in the state tournament. It’s a tough position to be in, but first-year Lady Commodores coach Kristian Robertson said she challenged her players after the match to
“Basically, we have to give everything we’ve got from now on,” she said. “We’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain from here on
forward. We’re going to watch some game film and see what we need to do to beat Pensacola.”
The Lady Pirates started to take control of the first set midway through with a 7-2 spurt to go up 17-11 following a kill by Milea Ray and an attacking error by Gulf Coast. The Lady Commodores fought back to get to within two on a pair of occasions, with an attacking error by Pensacola State making it 20-18.
But a serving error by GC and a pair of kills by Leah Rand extended the Pensacola lead to 23-18, with Y’Tae Cobb closing it out with a tip kill after a Hannah Fromdahl serve.
GC responded with a strong second set, using a 7-0 run that featured six straight serves by Jenna Erwin to take a 21-11 lead. Erwin also had six kills in the set, which ended on an attacking error by the Lady Pirates.
The third set was the most dramatic of the match, with Gulf Coast leading much of the way until Pensacola fought back to tie it up 19-19 on a serve by Fromdahl. The Lady Commodores looked in prime position to close it out after back to back kills by Erwin made it 23-21.
However, consecutive kills by Rand and Milea Ray tied it back up, and a serve by Ray put Pensacola on top 25-24. Jordan Rayburn came up with kills to stave off two set points for the Lady Pirates, but consecutive kills by Cobb gave Pensacola the crucial 2-1 set advantage.
The fourth set was closely contested, with Gulf Coast trailing just 15-14 before the Lady Pirates scored five of the next six points thanks to kills from DD Green, Bailey Powell, and Cobb, and a block by Powell to make it 20-15.
A kill by Taylor Lawhon got the Lady Commodores to within four at 22-18, but Pensacola won the final three points and finished it off with a block by Green on match point.
Robertson said she thinks the tough end to the third set had a carryover effect into the fourth for her players.
“I think so, especially when you work so hard and you’re going over the 25th (point),” she said. “It definitely drains you emotionally and
physically, so I think that had something to do with the energy in the fourth game.”
Rand and Cobb led Pensacola with 15 kills each, with Fromdahl adding 45 assists and three blocks, and Allison Von Brock 11 digs. Powell had seven kills, two aces, and four digs, and Green had six kills and two blocks.
Gulf Coast next plays Oct. 5 at home against Point University.