PEMBROKE — For two hours and 15 minutes Tuesday night, the tension slowly built between the Lumberton and Purnell Swett volleyball teams. Finally, after a five-set marathon, it erupted — with cheers and screams from the maroon-clad side of the gym after the Pirates earned the thrilling victory.
Lumberton beat Purnell Swett 3-2, with a back-and-forth fifth set serving as a microcosm for what the entire match had been.
“Happy at one point, mad Purnell is beating us. Back-and-forth with our rivals,” Lumberton outside hitter Alona Hanna said. “Everybody knows Purnell and Lumberton always go at it, and they fight it out to the end. It was back and forth, but we came out on top for everything.”
After winning the first and third sets, Lumberton (7-5, 2-4 United-8 Conference) jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the fifth; Purnell Swett (6-9, 2-5 United-8) took the lead after consecutive aces by Georgia Locklear, and extended that lead to 12-9, completing a 10-2 run.
“(Georgia Locklear) has a really competitive serve, when it’s in play,” Purnell Swett coach Corey Deese said. “They were feeling it. It’s Lumberton, it’s their biggest game of the year, it always is, and you’ve got to fight, and you keep fighting to the end. We didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but they fought.”
“We motivated them as much as we could,” Lumberton coach Kali Carter said. “We called timeout, we told them, hey, you’re playing down to their level, they are a good team but we know we can play at at a higher level than them. I was like, just put out what you’ve been putting in in practice, produce the effort you’ve been putting in.”
Lumberton came back to tie the set at 13-13, then took the lead for good on a kill by Hanna.