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Lady Bears claim win over Bertie

WINDSOR – From the rock to the Rock of Ages.

Each year Hertford County High School volleyball coach Jane Futrell finds something new to inspire her Lady Bears players. A year ago to emphasize strength and perseverance, she used the example of stones.

This year she used Bible scripture.

It seems to be working as Hertford County (3-5, 1-2 in conference) downed Bertie High School (0-6, 0-4) Thursday night in Windsor, taking it three games to two (25-12, 24-26, 25-19, 19-25, and 15-8) for their first match win over the Lady Falcons since 2003.

“This is big,” said an excited and happy coach Futrell after the match. “I have so much respect for (Bertie) coach (Alice) Lyons, but when we play each other it’s a totally different game and a totally difference level.

“There was this king in the Bible who had too many men,” she added, “and he had to keep cutting down his army as the Lord told him to. And that’s what we’re going to do this year: go into battle and just ride it out with what we have.”

Hertford County opened the first game jumping out to a quick 8-3 lead thanks to hitters Jazima Ridley and Olivia Edwards. The duo finished the match with four kills between them.

Bertie crept back into the game thanks to Ya’Shonti Bridgers up front and the serving of Tenethia Cherry and LaToya Gilliam. The Lady Falcons trimmed the Lady Bears’ edge to 8-7 before Hertford County went on a run with nine straight points and put the game away by 13.

Switching sides made a difference for the Lady Falcons. This time it was Bertie who was the aggressor as Lyons substituted liberally and got some great digs from the libero play of Brandice Cullipher. Hertford County tied the game 10-10 before the Falcons reeled off a nine-point run of their own.

But the Bears were relentless and tied it at 23-23 before Lyons called a time out to regroup her squad and they collected the final two points for the win, ending the game with a thunderous spike of a kill from Montreshia Perry and took it 26-24.

The third game was a back and forth contest with seven ties. In the end, Kandise Valentine stepped up for the Lady Bears with a trio of kills and four service points. Bertie’s final tie came at 18-all, but then the Lady Falcons were outscored down the stretch, 7-1 for the six-point win.

Bertie then forced a tie-breaker as they won the fourth game. Tatyanna Holley collected three straight service aces and was going for a fourth before the ball caught the edge of the net. Her trio sparked her team and the Lady Falcons got the final six points that sent the match into a fifth and deciding game.

Hertford County would not be denied in the finale. They started off with a swooping service ace from Edwards and never looked back from there. Ridley recorded three kills in six tries and the Lady Bears took their first win over their rivals in six years.

“Right there at the end I guess we took for granted that we had it won before we played it out,” said a disappointed coach Lyons, “and after they took that lead I think we played intimidated like we were scared.

“We took a couple of games down to the last point,” she added, “but that’s something we’ll have to work on this week.”

“We missed a lot of hits in the second and third games,” said Futrell, “but they don’t give up on each other like they did in the past. This year we’re able to push through our differences and bring everything together.”

Bertie has just one match next week while Hertford County will be at home in Ahoskie for their next contest against Currituck.