Pearl River makes quick work of Coastal Alabama-East

Published 1:36 pm Tuesday, October 5, 2021

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The Pearl River volleyball team earned its 12th win in straight sets Monday, defeating Coastal Alabama – East 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-12).

The Wildcats had to battle hard in the first two sets of the day before running away with the third.

“After some recent wins, we may have come into a tad inflated,” coach Haley Chatham said. “It’s good to be reminded that you have to earn what you want. The first two sets did that to us, but we are blessed with really good kids who work hard and just plain know what to do. They love to play fast, gritty volleyball.”

After falling behind 7-3 to Coastal Alabama-East (9-12 overall) early in the first set of the day, Pearl River (15-3) stormed back to cut the deficit to one at 7-6.

The Warhawks and Wildcats traded points for a bit before CAE took an 11-8 lead.

Pearl River flipped the switch, rattling off an 8-1 run. The second point of the run came off a kill by Julianah Overstreet (Vancleave) before the Wildcats tied up the set 11-11. After CAE briefly took the lead back, three consecutive kills from Diamond Jones (Gonzales, La.; East Ascension), Overstreet and Payton McKerchie (Vancleave) gave Pearl River a 14-12 lead. The Wildcats tacked on two more points before the run came to an end to make the score 16-12.

The teams proceeded to go punch-for-punch with each other with Pearl River eventually taking a 23-18 lead.

A Jones kill and a ball that was hit out of bounds by a Warhawk player closed out the set 25-18.

Neither Pearl River nor Coastal Alabama-East could find its footing in the beginning of the second set, battling out to a 10-10 tie.

The Wildcats then rattled off six consecutive points highlighted by three straight kills from Jones, making the score 16-10.

The Warhawks did not fold under pressure, going on a five-point run themselves to cut the PRCC lead to just one at 16-15.

The Wildcats added on three more points two of which came from kills by Jones and McKerchie, giving them a 19-15 lead.

CAE claimed the next four points to tie up the scoring at 19-19 before PRCC added three in a row off kills by Jones, McKerchie and Leighton Willoughby (Brandon; Northwest Rankin).

The Warhawks fought back to tie the match up at 23, but the Wildcats put the set to rest with two straight points, winning 25-23.

Coastal Alabama-East grabbed a quick 4-3 lead to begin the third and final set of the day, but the Wildcats grabbed the lead right back at 6-4 off two Leah Draine (Mobile, Ala.; Mattie T. Blount) kills and an Overstreet kill.

The Wildcats then took the next seven points to go ahead 15-5. Willoughby led the way in the run, claiming a kill and a block.

Pearl River eventually stretched its lead out to 18-7 after Sydney Salter (Vancleave) dove for a dig that led to a point and Avery Beth Durdin (Olive Branch; Lewisburg) tipped a ball over the net that fell in front of a Coastal Alabama-East player.

After the Wildcats stretched their lead out to 24-12, Jasmine Burdine (Biloxi) emphatically put the game to rest with a thunderous kill, winning the set 25-12.

The Wildcats were led to victory by the play of Willoughby and Jones.

Chatham feels that Willoughby has taken a step up this season.

“Leighton is such a force on our team,” she said. “She has always been all about the business, but this year she is playing with confidence. She works to transition fast and always be available, she stays locked in as a blocker, is very smart and is making the right reads.”

Jones continues to be a force for the Wildcats registering double-digit kills in yet another match.

“Diamond can do anything she decides she wants to do. I’m convinced of that,” Chatham said. “She’s at her very best when she plays free and without fear of making a mistake. She’s been playing like that more and more lately. It’s a beautiful thing to see.”

Pearl River hits the road Wednesday to take on Bishop State. The match is set to begin at 5 p.m.

For the latest on Pearl River Community College athletics, follow us on Twitter (@PRCCAthletics) and Facebook (PRCCAthletics).