It looked like it was going to be a long first set, but Jefferson came away with the 3-0 victory over Washington in a Eastern Panhandle Athletic Conference volleyball matchup Tuesday.
The first set went back and forth until Jefferson pulled away with five straight points to take the 15-9 lead. The Patriots tied it at 19, trying to fight their way to a lead that would hold. They couldn't make it happen, however.
A service error by Washington put Jefferson at set point, and an ace for the Cougars made the final margin 25-22.
"They wanted this game. They wanted it bad," Jefferson coach Ryan Mills said.
The Cougars came out with the same strong momentum in the second set.
They went on a six-point run for the early lead, but Washington pulled within 8-6. Jefferson pulled away again with another six-point lead after an ace by Allee Hoffman and a misplay by Washington.
"That's just what happens with youth," Washington coach Andrea Stewart. "When you're young, you're more apt to make mistakes at a time like that."
She added the growing pains now will lead to a stronger team in the next two years.
Jefferson took the lead to seven on a kill by Kaitlyn Boyd, who had some hitting issues.
"For her, it's hard because she's short and she has to get on top the ball," Mills said.
Boyd tended to use all her might on every shot, hitting the ball out instead of taking advantages of openings on the opposite court. She had five kills and 11 aces in the match.
The Patriots started to come back, bringing the score to 22-19. Washington had the serve but couldn't take advantage, ending the game on a service error and a missed kill to give Jefferson the 25-20 win.
"I wished they fought a little harder," Stewart said. "You can see the potential we have."
The third set showed Washington's potential to fight back. The Patriots didn't let Jefferson get ahead by more than four before tying it up at 10-10. The Cougars regained the lead, Washington still not letting a win be out of its reach.
Cameron Payne and Abbey Lesznar ensured the Patriots stayed close. The duo blocked many hard hits throughout the night to keep the games from getting too far away.
"They are awesome," Stewart said proudly of the freshman-sophomore tandem.
Tied at 21-21, the teams came off a timeout, leading to the end of the Patriots' fight.
Jefferson scored on a block that landed on the opposite court by Brittany Hozdic to put the Cougars up 24-21, and a kill by Boyd ended it all for the 25-22 win.
"They were really it in. It just didn't come together for us," Stewart said. "The season is not over."
Looking forward to more chances to improve, Stewart was particularly impressed with Briana Browning.
"She really just hustled her butt of," Stewart said, acknowledging there's only so much she could do as a setter.
Jefferson's Mallory Jackson, Lindsay Silveous and Maddy Nace hustled for their team as well.
Jackson had five kills while Silveous added 19 assists and Nace had 18 digs.