After dropping an exciting and tightly contested first set 25-23 on their home court, the Pettisville volleyball team regrouped and took the next three sets, 25-16, 25-14 and 25-22 to defeat Fayette 3-1 in a Buckeye Border Conference match-up on Tuesday night.
“I don’t think we were scared. We just knew we needed to do better,” said the Blackbirds’ senior leader Stephanie Hubby, describing the mood following the opening set loss. “We had a lot of confidence and got our momentum back together.”
Pettisville opened up an 8-5 lead in the first game but could never extend the margin beyond three points and finally allowed Fayette to tie things up at 16 all. The Birds went back up by two, only to watch the Eagles score the next three points and take their first lead at 19-18. The lead flip-flopped three more times until the score settled into a 23-23 tie.
Off the serve of Hannah Machacek, the Eagles scored the final two points, the game winner courtesy of a Kaela Seiler spike, and Fayette had a one set lead with designs on avenging a four set loss to the Blackbirds earlier in the season.
The second set was equally as tight with the teams tying seven times and exchanging the lead four times just to get to an 8-8 score. After splitting the next 10 points, Pettisville’s front line of Amber Klopfenstein, Anya Kauffman and Kate Kauffman began to control play at the net with blocks and spikes, pushing the Birds to an 18-14 advantage.
Pettisville scored seven of the last nine points, including the last two with back-to-back spikes by Morgan Leppelmeier to win 25-16 and tie the match at one set each.
Looking to deliver a counter punch, Fayette took an early 5-3 lead in the third set but the Birds scored six straight to take control and maintained a two to four point margin until the score reached 15-13. Two Pettisville runs of five, separated by a single Eagle point, captured set number three, 25-14, giving the home team a 2-1 lead.
Fayette could have easily folded at that point but they fought back, determined not to go quietly. “As far as that third set, we fell apart as a team and we talked about how important it was to play as a team to be successful,” said Eagles’ coach Brenda Wagner. “I was proud of how we went back out in that fourth game and turned it back on.”
The fourth set was played just as tight as the first with both teams taking turns on top but never getting more than a two point lead until right at the end. After Fayette scored to pull within 20-19, the Blackbirds put the next three on the board to give them a four point cushion, their biggest of the game.
The Eagles responded with their own three point run to make the score 23-22, but Teagan Kauffman served up the last two points for Pettisville for the 25-22 win and the four set victory.
“We talked after the first game and said ‘OK, we’re going to play four and we’re going to take one set at a time,’” commented Blackbirds coach John Horning. “I thought, for the most part, we were pretty consistent against a really scrappy team with a couple of good hitters and a setter that ran their offense really well. We’re happy with the win.”
Pettisville next entertains North Central tonight for Senior Night, while Fayette hosts Edon.
Bill O’Connell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org