HENDERSONVILLE — Pope Prep earned a much-needed region victory Thursday evening downing Brentwood Academy 3-1 (21-25, 25-14, 25-15, 25-19), moving to 2-2 in league play and 12-4 overall on the season.
After falling behind 25-21 following the first set, Kim Shaver’s crew focused on starting fast in the second set, to which they did, racing out to an 11-2 lead early, forcing an Eagles timeout.
“I’m proud of them for making that happen because I do think it made a big difference,” Shaver said. “We wanted to put pressure on them that set after they put pressure on us in that first set. We made errors on our serve-receive, so we knew if we could put the pressure on them, they would make unforced errors, and they did.”
Shaver praised her defense and passing in sets two through four.
“I feel like we did a great job on that end,” she said. “We worked hard on defense this week, and I think we did a great job of blocking up front and digging balls in what we call a big circle — not just ones that are right in front of you, but ones that are in your area. Our hitters did a good job, and our passing was solid in sets two, three, and four.”
After jumping out to an 11-2 lead in the second set, Brentwood Academy clawed back to cut the Pope lead to 10, twice, but the Lady Knights stayed focused on the task at hand.
“I think that is the challenge in rally scoring — keeping that intensity when you are up big,” she said. “It’s hard to stay mentally focused and intense when you look at the scoreboard and see a big margin. You can never really get comfortable in rally scoring; you always need to have that edge because the minute you get comfortable or open that window, the other team will make a run.”
Pope closed out the set comfortably, 25-14.
The third set started tight as both teams battled back-and-forth the first six points. Pope then won 14 of the following 19 points for the commanding lead. The Lady Knights closed out the set 25-15 for the 2-1 advantage.
The fourth and final set looked like the Eagles would claim victory and force the match to five sets, jumping out to an 8-2 lead.
“We called a timeout and referred back to the first set,” Shaver said. “We knew we could climb out of the hole, but we had to do it in a hurry. Brentwood Academy has a strong team that we have a ton of respect for; I am excited to get the win tonight.”
Pope then went on a run of its own, tying the match at 9-9. From there, they took their first lead at 10-9 before racing out to a 15-11 advantage.
The two teams traded points following a 4-0 BA run after an Eagles timeout, seeing the match tied at 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19.
Tied at 19, Pope scored the following six points to end the set and the match, 25-19.
“Our girls are coming along well,” Shaver said. “I’m excited about what they are doing.”
Pope will head to the Watertown tournament on September 18 before closing the regular season with Father Ryan, St. Cecilia, Ensworth, and Valor College Prep.