Just by the edge of the net

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It was a good ‘ol fashioned block party, and all of Hamilton County was invited.
The matchup was the cherry on top of a fantastic volleyball triangular.
The energy in the building was just different than what it was for the prior two hours.
It was a restless, unnerving anticipation. You could feel it during warmups. The air in the building just felt different; like the roof was ready to explode off the top.
Waiting that extra 15 minutes of warmup time for the girls seemed like an eternity. It was all culminating to a singular moment, seconds before the first serve.
If you weren’t one of the Hornet or Hawk supporters in the building, you missed what I’ve dubbed as the early season favorite for area match of the year, and if that isn’t a thing, I just made it one.
You could tell how important this match was to both teams. The intensity, the actual plays being made and the celebrations after every point just set the tone.
It began like most heavyweight battles do. Point after point being traded with each other, neither team gaining much, if any advantage.
Tayler Klassen and Madison VanHousen are absolute killers -- literally -- for the Hampton attack. It was their kills that gained the first advantage of the match
Hampton forced the first timeout to be called by Kurt Polt, leading 11-8 in the first set.
But, if you thought that the two-time defending state champions would just roll over for the Hawks in their own building, think again.
Next, meet Chainey Tompkin. She was the first of several to host her own block party within the confines of the Hornet gym. Two consecutive blocks by No. 7 tied the first set at 15.
The battle wore on deep into the first set as each team reached the 20-point plateau around the same time.
Giltner gained advantage late, up 24-21, but as I said, don’t ever count out VanHousen or Klassen, as they got the Hawks back into it, but it wasn’t enough as Tompkin brought a convincing end to the set and Giltner led 1-0.
The beginning of the second set mirrored the first, right down to the 8-8 tie score. The difference -- Giltner scored the next three to lead 11-8 instead of Hampton. Each team played out of their minds through the middle part of the set, as eventually the game was tied at 20.
Blink once, blink twice, the game is tied at 23. Don’t blink again.
If you blinked, you missed the side out by Giltner to get the 24-23 lead.
The final serve by the Hornets clips the top of the tape and falls right into the middle of the Hampton defense.
Oh my.
What a way to finish out such a hard-fought, emotional volleyball match. Everything comes down to the ball clipping the top of the net and catching you off guard.
The Hornets were understandably ecstatic while the Hawks were on the same token that much more disappointed.
They have nothing to hang their heads over. Someone had to lose, and who knows, that net that brought them dissatisfaction may sometime down the road lead them to elation.
That’s volleyball.

RICHARD RHODEN can be reached at sports@hamilton.net
 

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