POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River experienced a number of firsts in its debut to open the season. The Wildcats crossed another one off the list Wednesday as they took Coastal Alabama-South to five sets. Despite rallying late, PRCC dropped the thriller 3-2 (23-25, 26-24, 22-25, 25-21, 11-15).
PRCC (5-9 overall) took an early 5-3 advantage in the first set following a double block by Leah Draine (Mobile, Ala.; Mattie T. Blount) and Leah Austin (Diamondhead; Hancock). An Isabella Thoennes (Kiln; Hancock) kill down the line extended PRCC's advantage to 6-3. The Sun Chiefs (9-3) made a run in what would be a theme on the night, jumping ahead 7-6.
Tied 14-14, PRCC reeled off 5 of 6 points, punctuated by an Austin kill off of a Sun Chief to go ahead 19-16. The two teams traded points down the stretch before CAS ultimately took the final three points to claim the 25-23 victory.
Neither team could earn much breathing room in the second set. With PRCC leading 19-15 it looked like their advantage might be in danger as the Sun Chiefs reeled off eight of nine to go ahead 23-20.
Pearl River coach Haley Chatham called timeout to regroup her squad and the break did the trick.
The two teams traded points before PRCC went on a needed run of its own. Started by a LaShundria Chatman (Brandon) tip over a double block, PRCC forced the visitors to commit several errors, taking the set 26-24.
After Coastal Alabama-South took the third set, the Wildcats bounced back once again.
In perhaps the most evenly played set of the night, the Wildcats and Sun Chiefs largely traded points to an 11-11 draw. PRCC pulled ahead 14-13 when Thoennes punished a wayward Sun Chief dig to punctuate a three-point run. Then the two teams were back and forth once again before PRCC took the last three points of the set — highlighted by a Draine slam on another long dig — to claim the 25-21 win.
In the pivotal fifth set, the Sun Chiefs seemed to respond every time the Wildcats gained some momentum.
A turning point was late in the match. Following a Chatham timeout, Madelyn Misita (Clinton) smoked a ball to pull PRCC within five, 12-7. Following a perfectly placed kill in the back corner by Chatman, Misita and Chatman teamed up on a block to force a Coastal Alabama-South timeout with the score 12-9.
Madison Smith (Madison; Germanton) picked up the next point out of the break but the Sun Chiefs took three of the final five to claim the 15-11 victory.
The Wildcats return to the court Friday, traveling to Judson College for a 3 p.m. start. PRCC then visits Pensacola Christian on Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. before returning to Shivers Gymnasium for a two-match homestand. The Wildcats will play Pensacola State College at 7 p.m. Oct. 7 and then Southern Union State at 2 p.m. Oct. 11.
HOW TO TUNE IN
All home events will be broadcast on PRCCAthletics.com and PRCCMedia.com. Anyone who has an Amazon Fire or Roku device can stream PRCC broadcasts by downloading the "Pearl River CC" Channel from the app store.