After dropping the first game, the Destin Marlins rallied and brought down the house serving up two straight wins for a 2-1 victory over the Meigs Wildcats in the middle school volleyball playoffs.
With the win, the Marlins advance to play the undefeated Ruckel Rams at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Niceville for the county championship.
“They were nervous and not playing together,” said Destin Coach Kersten Bowman after that first game. “So I told them we had to get back to our basics, our strategy and be aggressive, which is what got us to the playoffs. We just needed to stick to our original game plan.
“So they just came out swinging,” Bowman said of those last two games. “And we brought so many people to the stands, that helped us.”
The Marlins fan base was loud and supportive.
“We usually don’t play that well outside of our gym, so we tried to bring our gym to Meigs and it worked,” Bowman said.
Destin had more than 100 fans in the crowd, standing on their feet, holding posters and yelling at the top of their lungs with every point scored by the Marlins.
“(The girls) loved it. It was a huge factor. Our fans are so supportive and the girls started to relax and have fun. I think they helped us a lot,” she said.
In the first game, Destin fell behind early and was never able to get the lead. Destin came within one to three points of the Wildcats a couple of times, but couldn’t get the upper hand. Meigs won 25-18 with Madden Legg and Jaden Lindner making some big plays.
In game two, the score was tied 12 times before Destin took charge bringing the Marlin fans to their feet.
With the game tied at 17-17, Destin’s Carsyn Tillman tipped one in for the Marlins for an 18-17 lead. Anna Marie Knowles then went to work at the service line to serve up five straight points for the Marlins biggest lead of the game, 22-17. Meigs picked up a couple of points on missed shots, and then Destin’s Bailey Phillips slammed one in to give Destin the advantage.
Destin’s Arleigh Foster went to the line and served up two points with Ashby Deep getting up for the block on one. Destin won the second game 25-19.
In game three, the tie-breaking round, the Marlins were still pumped, as were their fan base, and took an early 4-2 lead. Destin’s Braden Runnels hammered in a point and Phillips served up a couple with Deep going up for a block. Meigs scored a point, and then Destin came back with Tillman placing in a couple of shots for the Marlins. Taylor Flint served up three straight and Destin led 8-3.
Meigs made a little run late with Legg at the line, but still trailed 10-7.
Destin picked up a couple of points, and then finished it off with Foster at the service line for a couple of no return balls and a 15-8 victory.