GRANBY —The first volleyball match of the season for the Middle Park High School Panthers took place the evening of Sept. 10, versus the Lake County High School Panthers, in the Middle Park High gymnasium.
The Middle Park team started its battle to victory strong with the first set at 25 to 8, setting the bar high for the opposing Lake County Panthers.
As the second game wore on, one could sense the nerves of the crowd as points went back and forth, from a Middle Park lead of 15-13, then Middle Park leading 18-15. Referee Mark Birdseye made a pivotal call against Lake County that made the score 19-15.
Middle Park won the second set 25-16.
With the end of the match now in sight, Middle Park did not expect the resistance at the beginning of the third set. Player and co-captain for the Middle Park Panthers No. 12 Mary Acord fired a blazing serve for the first point.
After this, head coach Nicci Guerrieri of the Middle Park panthers watched in despair as they lost 7 out of 8 points, handing the advantage to the Lake County Panthers, with a score of 2-7.
Guerrieri quickly called the Middle Park panthers to the sideline for a time-out to rally them back into the game. Coming out of the gates motivated, co-captains No. 13 Keren Bakke and Acord pushed the team to work together, resulting in a tie score 8-8.
“Try to take a deep breath and let it go,” said Lake County Coach Mcgee, to her team during a time out after Lake County gave up another point.
But the pep talk fell flat. Within minutes, the Middle Park Panthers had extended their lead to 22-11, and a serve from Acord pushed the score to more than doubling Lake County’s.
In a standing ovation, the Middle Park fans heralded the game point that concluded a hard-fought match.
The Middle Park Panthers won 25-12 in the final of three sets to set the tone for the rest of the year.
“Lake county has come a long way,” said Guerrieri post-match.
“Our real focus is our league matches now,” she said.
Middle Park Panthers next face KIPP away, then Clear Creek away. The next home game is against Sheridan on Sept. 24.