The Portsmouth Trojans added another chapter to their longtime rivalry with the Fighting Tigers of Ironton Thursday night as they won a hard fought five set victory by scores of 23-25, 25-16, 22-25, 25-21, and 13-15.
The first set of the night started off very close as neither team could get any momentum going. Samantha Lafon would carry the Tigers offense as she tied the game at 2-2, 3-3 and eventually put her team ahead 6-4. Ironton head coach Beth Campbell was glad to get her big hitting sophomore back. “She tore her ACL last December” said Campbell, “She brings leadership to this team and she sees the court very well. There is something that pushes her, and she is our go to person.” Portsmouth would fight back, though, as Jaiden Rickett tied the game at 6-6 7-7 and 8-8.
Cracks would begin to show on the Ironton side as some mental lapses would allow the Trojans to go up 11-9. Ironton would call their first timeout after a big hit by Morgan Grashel put the Trojans ahead, 12-8. Portsmouth would extend their lead to 14-8 after two aces by Madison Perry. Ironton would make their first run of the night and behind Samantha Lafon’s huge hits, they would come to within two points of Portsmouth making the score, 18-16. Both teams would stay neck and neck with each other and going into the final point of set while the Trojans would have a slim 24-23 lead. Morgan Grashel would score the set winner for Portsmouth with a final score of 25-23.
The beginning of the second set would somehow be even closer than the first set as neither team could gain any separation. The score would be tied at 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, and 5-5. Trojans would finally get a little breathing room as they went up 8-5. The Tigers would not go away silently though as they clawed their way back and tied the game again at 8-8 and after a huge block by Riley Schrek, the Tigers would take a 9-8 lead. Trojans senior Savanna Spence would bring her team back in the set as she scored two straight point to put Portsmouth up 10-9. The Tigers offense would begin to takeover after this as Lydia Hannan and LaFon would put Ironton up 14-10 going into Portsmouth’s first timeout of the set. Lafon would be a big contributor in the set as the Tigers offense kept rolling in route to a 25-16 set victory.
The Portsmouth Trojans would come back with a vengeance in the third set as they raced out to an early 7-3 lead, which forced an Ironton timeout. The Trojans would keep their momentum going as they led 13-7. Ironton would again have to claw their way back into the game and after some costly mistakes by Portsmouth, the score would be tied at 19-19. Portsmouth would call a timeout and try to regroup after giving up their early lead. Trojans’ head coach Deanna Smith looked to rally her team after giving up the lead. “We always try to cut down on our mistakes and I always tell my team that we are better than those mistakes.” Portsmouth would regain their composure from earlier in the set to go on to win the third set 25-22.
Neither team would back down going into set four. The lead would bounce back and forth between each squad. Anytime the Trojans would get a lead, the Tigers would immediately answer back and tie the set score up. Finally, after some great stops, Ironton would start to take over before going up 13-9. Again, neither team could get too far ahead as the Trojans would tie the game at 20-20 going into the end of the 4th set. Small mistakes would continue to be a problem for the Trojans, however, as Ironton went up 23-21. After a hard fought set, Hannan would put the Tigers over the top as they won the 4th set, 25-21.
The final set of the night would again start off as a back and forth affair as neither team gave up any momentum. Smith would rally her squad going into the decisive set. “I told them we need to pick up our energy and we know we can win this next set. We need to stay positive the entire time.”
The Trojans would take the early lead 5-3, but Ironton would fight their way back into the game and tie it at 6-6. The Trojans would gain a small 10-6 advantage but would quickly relinquish their lead to the Tigers at 10-10. Ironton would wrestle the lead back from the Trojans at 13-12 as players from both sides dove gave all they had in the waning moments of this intense match. Portsmouth would fight back and force match point at 14-13 heading into Ironton’s final timeout of the night. Finally, after a hard fought match and with the game on the line, Savanna Spence would score the last point of the set to Portsmouth, 15-13 and win the match, 3-2.
You can catch the Trojans in action next against the Portsmouth West Senators Monday night on the Trojans home court. JV begins at 5:30 p.m.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT