On a night when Laurel and High Point played inspired volleyball for more than two hours, the visiting Eagles had the final word and outlasted the Spartans.
And High Point did it after losing the first two sets. The Eagles went onto to posted a 20-25, 13-25, 25-23, 25-13, 15-11 victory Tuesday night.
"We always play Laurel in the beginning of the season and we always go five games," High Point coach Shirley Diggs said. "Laurel is a great defensive team. They really try for every ball."
Laurel first-year coach Jen Gobrail probably would love to her the praise, but she found plenty of frustration in the Spartans' performance in their season opener.
"They were fighting for those last points in the third game," Gobrail explained. "They wanted it. After that, they started playing High Point's game. And they were tired. It's something the girls need to work on mentally to get to the place where it doesn't matter how tired you are."
Laurel's best performances came from two sophomores: middle hitter Teni Sopitan (8 blocks, 4 kills) and right side hitter DeJa Smith (9 kills).
Erica Kittiesan (20 assists), Wnedi Oguayo (13 aces) and Ketuah Gregory (5 blocks) led High Point.
Laurel fell behind 17-11 in the first set before slowing working its way into the lead, 20-19, behind the serving of Sopitan. The Spartans scored the last five points to finish High Point off.
High Point took a 9-7 lead in the second set before Laurel fought back again. The Spartans used a 14-0 run to take control thanks to the serving of Bilikisu Okoosi, a senior right side hitter, and the net play of Sopitan.
"In the first couple of games, we were confused," Diggs said. "I have some new players on the court, but they finally pulled it together."
High Point led by as many as five points early in the third, but it was tied at 23 late before the Eagles scored on a dink and serve that was hit out of bounds by a Laurel player.
High Point had an easier time in the fourth set and carried the momentum over to the final set by leading most of the way.
"The girls have the skills," Gobrail said. "They can pass, serve and hit. They proved that to us in the first two games, but they forgot some things after that."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun