The Walnut Lady Wildcats were in a bad spot.
They were down 2-0 against Hickory Flat, having dropped the first two matches after leading both early. They had let those slip away and were in a hole. A hole against a Hickory Flat squad that had yet to lose a set in district play all season.
Lady Wildcat Coach Kelley Hopper had simple advice for her squad as they took the floor for the third set, their district title hopes hanging in the balance.
“You’ve got to keep playing. Don’t give up. Finish.”
The Lady Cats, against long odds and in front of their home crowd, complete with the North Tippah Band, did just that.
Walnut jumped out to take a commanding lead in the third set and ultimately win 25-14 in what can only be described as a tour de force from Claire Leak, who accounted for 7 kills and an ace thanks in large part to pinpoint sets from Belle Martindale.
Still trailing 2-1 in the match, Walnut carried their third set momentum into the fourth and jumped ahead 6-0. Hickory Flat, as they’ve so often done, made a run themselves. The game titled back and forth but Walnut continued to press at the net, with Laura Leigh Hughes, Dalana Dollar and Elyse Story contesting the aerial attack of the Lady Rebels while Angie Hopper made numerous point saving digs. The game ultimately swung to the Lady Wildcats 25-21, forcing a winner take all 5th set.
In front of their home crowd, against the odds, with the stands electric with energy, Walnut took the fifth set over Hickory Flat thanks in large part to the energy and stellar play of Madi Vuncannon, who got the games final point on a block at the net. The match, and the district title, were won via a total team effort.
More pictures from the win and the celebration afterwards on Facebook and Instagram.