Panthers knock off Lions in county matchup

Briarwood's Lauren Palmer reaches up to block a return by Pelham's Sarah Sudd in a an Oct. 5 matchup. (Contributed/Emily Jackson)

Briarwood’s Lauren Palmer reaches up to block a return by Pelham’s Sarah Sudd in a an Oct. 5 matchup. (Contributed/Emily Jackson)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY — It wasn’t a playoff match, but given the level of competition, it had all the feeling of one, as the Briarwood Christian Lions hosted the Pelham Panthers on Oct. 7.

Unfortunately for the home team, the Panthers took the 3-0 match win.

In the opening set , Pelham took the 1-0 advantage in the match on a 25-13 set win.

In the second set, The Panthers opened up a 5-1 lead. Using the serve game of Autumn Hiett, the Panthers went on a 6-0 run to take a 11-1 lead. An 8-2 run followed for the Panthers, and Pelham took control of the set at 19-4.

The Lions then mounted a comeback, climbing back into the game on a  6-4 run to close the gap to 23-10, but the Panthers closed the door on the Lions, taking a 25-12 win.

In the third set, it was the Lions who came out strong. Briarwood opened with a 2-1 advantage, extending to 5-2 on serving from Molly McKenzie. The Panthers rallied, tying the game at 5-5.

The two squads continue to battle back-and-forth, with the Panthers opening a 16-12 advantage. Briarwood closed the gap, tying the game at 18-18 and even taking a 19-18 lead. Pelham tied the set on a spike by Hiett, and outlasted the Lions down the stretch for a 25-23 set win and 3-0 match sweep.

Briarwood head coach Perry Robinson said he was proud of the effort of his team, especially the long scoring runs the offense produced.

“We knew this would be a tough one,” he said. “Coach Wilson has done a great job for a long time. They’re always going to bring it, tonight we were just able to get a little ahead of them. It’s fun when you get on a run like that. We’ve been on both sides. They relax and just play, and that’s when it’s fun for them.”

Hiett posted 11 kills, 20 digs and six digs, Sarah Sudd had nine kills, Hayley Brisendine had 10 digs, Josie Harwood had four aces and two blocks, while Emily Jackson had 33 assists.

For the Lions, Rachel Nix had nine kills and four digs, Lauren Palmer had five digs, Rachel Walz had 25 digs and Molly McKenzie had 10 assists.

Pelham moves on to face Thompson in Alabaster Oct. 16, while Briarwood takes on St. Paul’s at home the same date.