For the second time this season, the Evergreen volleyball team was taken to a fifth set while on the road against an NWOAL opponent, putting its unblemished league record in jeopardy, but somehow managed to pull out the win. Trailing 10-8 to Archbold in the final set Tuesday night, just five points from losing their first league match in two years, the Vikings scored the set’s final seven points and won the match 25-14, 23-25, 25-14, 22-25 and 15-10.
“Can I sit down? My legs are going to give out,” joked an elated, but physically and emotionally drained Evergreen coach Kelsey Wulf after the match. “We had a few fall our way and that gave us momentum in the fifth set,” she said, explaining how they were able to survive.
The first set was evenly played in the early going with the teams tied at seven, but then the Vikings began to show why they have dominated the league for the past two years. They scored 11 of the next 14 points and coasted to a 25-14 victory with an Eden Eisel spike ending the game. The Eisel spike would later prove to be a preview of coming attractions.
Set number two looked like it would have a similar outcome with Evergreen taking a number of three point leads, 3-0, 11-8 and 15-12, but Archbold kept fighting back. When the Vikes were ahead 17-14, the Streaks put together two runs of five and four points and took a 23-18 lead and held on for a 25-23 win, tying the match at one set apiece.
Not accustomed to losing sets to league opponents, let alone matches, Evergreen broke a 9-9 tie in the third set and outscored Archbold 16-5 the rest of the way to win 25-14, again, with front line players Kaela Fauble, Haili Mossing and Eisel controlling play at the net.
At that point the Blue Streaks could have easily packed it in and gone home, but they were not about to let the defending league champions out of the gym that easily. The fourth set was a seesaw battle that saw both squads exchange the lead four times and tie the score on nine separate occasions, the final time at 20-20. Looking at defeat if they did not step up, the resilient Streaks scored the next four points and hung on for a 25-22 victory.
“The girls really played their hearts out,” remarked Archbold coach Jill Holdgreve on her team’s effort. “Anybody that came to watch really got their money’s worth.”
The fifth set tie breaker proved to be just as close as the set before. Evergreen took a 3-1 lead after a Mossing spike, only to see Archbold score the next three points for a 4-3 lead. The teams traded three point runs before Peyton Dickman drilled a shot to give the Streaks a 10-8 advantage and what appeared to be enough momentum to finally end the Vikings great run.
But it was not to be. Powered by three hard spikes by Eisel, the first one to regain the lead, the Vikes stormed back and claimed the set and the match to remain undefeated in the league. “We really needed that,” said Wulf of Eisel’s momentum changing effort. “She had been kind of apprehensive the entire match up until that last set. It was good to see her shine. That’s senior leadership.”
On the other side of the court, however, the Archbold faithful were left talking about the one that got away. “A little bit of that is experience,” said Holdgreve on the Streaks’ sudden loss of momentum after taking the lead late in the final set. “We just need to continue to stay positive and know that we can finish a game aggressively and just stay after it.”
The next big test for Evergreen is when they entertain Delta, who is also undefeated in the league next Tuesday. Archbold does not return to league action until Tuesday, Oct. 6 when they travel to Liberty Center.
Bill O’Connell can be reached at email@example.com