Caldwell County junior middle-hitter Abby Griggs celebrated her 17th birthday a day late, with an absolute block party on Owensboro Apollo.
The Caldwell County Lady Tigers (15-6) did not want any part of going five sets against powerhouse Apollo (13-7) on their regularly scheduled Thursday primetime home game, with two games in Lexington to follow 24 hours later on Friday night, but the Lady Tigers did what had to be done. Griggs put the team on her back to give the Lady Tigers their third straight win, overcoming a blown 2-0 lead to take down Apollo in a popcorn match with the Lady E-gals at the CAB 3-2 (25-14, 26-24, 17-25, 28-30, 15-9).
Savanna Tays put up 13 digs and an astounding 47 set assists; Kendall Powell finished with seven kills, 15 assists and five digs; Adi Sullinger contributed 17 digs; Riley Thomas was big with 15 digs; and Mary Tays had 14 digs with seven kills. It was Mitchell and Griggs who stole the show offensively, though, as they combined for 48 kills.
Mitchell finished with 24 kills and 19 digs with three aces while Griggs took 24 kills with four blocks and two digs.
"We did that off of two things, their absolute will to not quit, we don't know what that word is and we ran the ball 30 foot down there, we were in the basketball out of bounds trying to run that last one down at about 13, and Mary almost didn't get her breath back in time to go back and serve 14 and 15," head coach Daniel Cortner said. "And then the absolute discipline. We've got a lot of certain times when something becomes a rule it's a rule, and teenage girls don't like discipline, but when it comes time in moments like that, they understand why. We were able to hold our speed, hold our poise and go. I told them right there, to my knowledge, Coach Howard has never lost in this gym, with her days in Henderson and her days here, she will not allow her teams to quit. We've got to fight one punch longer."
A 4-0 start from Caldwell County in set one forced a quick timeout for Apollo, and the Lady Eagles adjusted accordingly to trim the deficit to 7-5 before Mitchell's first kill brought Caldwell back to a 9-5 lead.
Mitchell (seven kills in the first set) got hot with her fifth kill to go up 16-11, and a six point lead forced Apollo's second timeout.
A poor middle blocking effort allowed Caldwell to take full control of set one at 22-12, and eventually a 25-14 set victory on a point from Mary Tays with the left hand.
Apollo jumped out to a different tune in set two, taking a 5-1 lead, and bumped it to 10-4 when a serve got past Riley Thomas.
A kill by Griggs and a bad ball that didn't reach over the net allowed Caldwell to crawl back within 10-8 and force a timeout.
Griggs kept the deficit manageable at 17-13 on a kill up front and, with Mitchell serving, Caldwell trimmed the deficit to just one point.
A tip by Prowell gave the Lady Tigers their first lead of the set at 20-19, and against a set-point, Caldwell County reeled off four in a row; capped off by putback by Mitchell to take a 26-24 second set and a 2-0 lead. But they wouldn't sweep, and almost blew the match entirely.
Apollo simply wouldn't quit, taking another early set lead at 6-0 in the third, before two straight kills from Griggs woke Caldwell back up.
Apollo took full control at 10-2, their largest lead of the game, but Mitchell gathered her footing and got Caldwell back within striking distance at 12-10 after serving the entire stretch.
Mitchell's spark was evident, but Apollo went back up 18-13 looking to close out their first set win and #3 closed out with a kill at 25-17 for Apollo, breaking Caldwell County's eight-set winning streak since their first game back from the All-A State Tournament.
Set four was again controlled early by Apollo, who went up 8-3 as they looked to send the match into a fifth set, but Caldwell County showed the heart of a champion and tied the set 11-11.
Griggs gave Caldwell their first 13-12 lead in the fourth set, and once they went up 21-20, Griggs nearly made sure they wouldn't look back.
Griggs made it 23-20 Lady Tigers, and after a back and fourth finish for the ages, Apollo came out on top 30-24 to force a decisive fifth set at a 2-2 tie.
A point by Tays had Caldwell out to a slight 9-7 advantage at the halfway mark in the fifth set, and Griggs forced a timeout with a kill at 10-7.
Griggs' back-to-back blocks led to a five point lead at 13-8, and a match point by Prowell at 15-9 through the left corner sent home Apollo for the night, earning the Lady Tigers their third straight win.
Lady Tigers take down Hopkinsville Tuesday
The Caldwell County Lady Tigers also took down Hopkinsville in their 20th straight win over the Lady Tigers on the road Tuesday night; getting a three-set win over Hoptown 25-14, 25-15 and 25-15.
Caldwell County had their 14th win of the year after the match, as Hopkinsville (4-9) had the early lead in set one at 5-0 but quickly blew the lead after a 10-4 advantage.
Olivia Mitchell tallied 14 kills, while Abby Griggs had a huge outing with 16 kills as she continues to get back to herself after a sickness kept her out of the early season. Savanna Tays finished with a game-high 26 set assists.
Caldwell County had Michell and Griggs to thank as they regained control with a 9-2 run to win 25-14.
Caldwell had to work for the second set, including an early tie before another huge run at 12-2 doubled up the lead at 20-10 and an eventual 25-15 win to go up 2-0.
After seven of her 16 kills came in the second set, Griggs helped Caldwell take the sweep with their easiest set of the bunch, taking a three-point lead midway through to reel off a 7-0 run to take a 25-15 final set.