SPENCERVILLE — With the tournament draw right around the corner — Sunday — volleyball teams are looking to finish off the regular season hitting on all cylinders.
Lincolnview and Spencerville were the two Northwest Conference combatants looking to do so Thursday night at Spencerville as the Lady Bearcats held Senior Parents Night.
However, the visiting Lady Lancers were rude guests, outlasting the hosts 25-18, 18-25, 22-25, 25-21, 15-11 in a marathon.
Abby Freewalt (10 kills, 17 digs), Shelby Mulholland (3 aces, 7 kills, 7 stuff-blocks), Alli Gilroy (12 digs) and Abbie Lee played their final home matches for the Lady Bearcats.
“The girls are pretty emotional right now, especially the seniors; losing in their final home match playing as well as they did is pretty tough,” Spencerville coach Kari Wicker said. “We played well in every phase from start to finish; there really weren’t any times that we didn’t. We just didn’t finish enough. One area we did do very well was 17 stuff-blocks; that was a strong effort at the net.”
Lady Lancer coach Heather Crow also had plenty to be pleased about.
“The area we have always focused on is defense; defense wins matches over the long haul,” she explained. “Our defense sets up our ability to hit so well. We’ve got some strong hitters that put the ball down and find the holes in the defense.”
The Lancers (7-12, 2-7 NWC) won the fourth set to force the fifth and got off quickly — a 4-0 edge on kills from junior Kelsey Mohr (8 kills), senior Jodie Doner (18 kills) and senior Mandie Tennant (9 kills), plus a hitting error. The Lady Bearcats (5-14, 1-7 NWC) could not quite overcome that early deficit, though they did get within 6-5 on a hitting miscue. The Lancers built a 12-7 edge on a kill by Tennant, forcing the second timeout of the set by Wicker. An in-the-net call on match point finished it.
The teams battled it out from the start, determined to do what was necessary to secure a win. The first set came down to a stretch that saw Lincolnview take a 22-15 lead on an ace from Ashley McClure (8 kills). The hosts could not recover as they could not return a Whitney Miller (31 digs) serve in three hits to go up 1-0.
The Lady Bearcats looked to respond in the second set and did so, taking the lead at 3-1 on a hitting error early on. The hosts never trailed from that moment on until the end of the set. Good serving (5 aces: 3 by sophomore Schylar Miller - 7 aces, 16 digs, 28 assists, 2 stuff-blocks), hitting (Mulholland leading with 3 kills and 2 stuffs and Freewalt with 4 kills) and the solid digging of Miller paced the effort. Spencerville steadily built up the lead by as much as 22-12 on a hit off the block by Alysa Smith. The closest the visitors could get was 24-18 on a hit off the block by Doner before a hitting error tied the match at 1.
The Lady Bearcats had the momentum going into the third set and kept it, scoring the first five points and never falling behind. The usual suspects did the job, helping the Black Attack lead by as much as 11-4 on an ace from Smith. The Lady Lancers steadily battled back and got within 22-21 on a hitting error before a hit out of bounds broke the spurt. A kill by Mulholland was countered by a hitting error for a 24-22 Spencerville edge. A kill by sophomore Katie Merriman (11 kills, 3 stuff-blocks) put the hosts up 2-1.
The fourth set was give-and-take the entire way. Neither team held more than a 4-point spread and there were several ties and trades of the lead. A final trade on a Spencerville hitting error put the visitors up 22-21. Kills by Doner and Tennant and an ace by Mohr tied the match at 2-2.
“We had 14 team aces to eight service errors. That is not that bad considering the number of serves we had,” Wicker added. “This was a great team effort; we win and lose as a team. The only thing that I wish hadn’t happened was we got a little tentative at times hitting; we were playing it safe and weren’t going for the hits as we did most of the time.”
Crow felt her team wore out their foe.
“We have a great variety of hitters at the net and we move the ball around. Our setters were doing a great job of moving their defense around,” Crow added. “That is harder on a defense when they can’t focus on one girls or one area to defend and I felt it tired them out.”
Sophomore Devann Springer totaled 16 digs and 24 assists for the visitors, to go with eight kills.
Spencerville won the junior varsity match 25-16, 25-19.
Lincolnview hosts New Knoxville 6 p.m. Monday, while Spencerville visits Paulding Tuesday.