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Volleyball: Central outlasts Denmark in five-set thriller
Forsyth Central senior Sarah Pipping spikes a ball at the net Tuesday during the Bulldogs' 3-2 win against Denmark. - photo by David Roberts

In such a competitive region, Forsyth Central head coach Brian Welsch feels like every match goes five sets.

That held true Tuesday evening as Central topped Denmark 3-2 after a back-and-forth match, which included a second set that required the winning team to reach 31 points. The scores were 25-15, 29-31, 21-25, 25-16, 15-11.

Welsch loved the competitive atmosphere.

“Literally, it was a dogfight,” Welsch said. “The Danes and the Bulldogs. It came down a lot to both teams had some key moments, some key players that stood up and wanted to play a lot of balls. They’ve got some really good players. They played a couple of adjustments that matched up well against what we were trying to do, and it forced us to make a couple of adjustments. At the end of the day, it was a little bit of a rivalry. A little bit of who wants it, who’s gonna take it. I just love the fight that the girls brought. They didn’t get down on themselves when we dropped a set. It was just more of the fun volleyball that we’ve been able to do this year. It was stressful, but it was fun.”

Central moved to 2-3 in area play, while Denmark fell to 1-4. 

In arguably the most competitive region in the state, wins have been hard to come by. 

Central and Gainesville (2-3) will play Thursday for the fourth seed in next week's area tournament.

“2-3 is not necessarily where anybody wants to be, but we’re owning the fact that we’re still building, and we’re still gaining momentum, and we’re still having fun,” Welsch said. “We’ve got Gainesville on Thursday for senior night. The winner of that may come down to a 4-versus-5 matchup and may end up being a rematch when it comes to the end of the region tournament. We’re gonna lineup, we’re gonna play, we’re gonna see what we can do. We’re gonna try and celebrate a bunch of seniors.”

Sarah Pipping and Emma Kiser had 21 kills each over the five sets to lead the Bulldogs to victory. They’re both big factors that help determine Central’s success. 

They’re also seniors and leaders that make impacts that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

“Sarah brings some energy and some explosion,” Welsch said. “Emma Kiser has been a workhorse for the last several region matches. Having both of those kids opposite each other on the net is just two great pin hitters that we love to feed off of. They build our team up. I’m not gonna say it’s our lifeline; I don’t ever think that one player or two players are bigger than the program, but it’s two seniors that are stepping up there and really getting after it.”

One thing that really stood out about Central was the energy of their bench. From the moment the match started, they were fully invested and provided a huge boost for their team. 

When Denmark’s student section grew exponentially toward the end of the second set, they didn’t back down. They exchanged chants with the fans. The atmosphere they helped create made for a fun match and helped their team get the win.

“We talked about having full team engagement,” Welsch said. “We talked about, with 16 players on the team and only six on the court, when we don’t have energy out there, we don’t have energy over here. This group has to be engaged. They have to be excited. I challenged them tonight to stay engaged in what was happening on the court instead of a very large, loud student section. But they’re having fun. There’s some of it where I’m looking at them, and I’m like, ‘What a bunch of little kids.’ But sometimes fun is what we’re here for.”

Each team will finish their regular season at home on Thursday. Central will host Gainesville, while Denmark hosts Lambert, which has already locked up the top-seed in the region tournament.