Pettisville won the first set, then dropped sets two and three before rebounding to take the last two in a seesaw battle against Delta Thursday in non-league volleyball at Delta. Game scores were 25-19, 16-25, 19-25, 25-15, 15-6.
“I’m glad we came back,” said Pettisville Coach John Horning. “We switched the lineup a little bit and the girls really gelled. With a lineup we hadn’t used before. I thought our energy the last two sets (was) good, especially, we came out really well that fifth set which was huge.”
Down 2-1 in the match, the Blackbirds rolled to a 12-2 start in game four.
After Jersey Irelan scored from the left side for Delta, Pettisville’s Liz Rochefort registered a pair of kills around a Panther error, plus consecutive Lyla Heising aces made it 5-1 Birds. Rochefort made her presence felt in the latter two sets for Pettisville.
“She did that a lot last year. This year she’s coming back around. She’s a big swing for us, and a great blocker too,” Horning said of his junior middle blocker.
The teams then exchanged hitting errors, before Karsen Pursel’s shot from the left, two Taylor Boger aces with a Rochefort play at the net in between, forced a Delta timeout. Out of the break the Birds continued their run with a Boger ace, Pursel’s dunk, and a Rochefort left-side kill to put the difference at 12-2.
Pettisville would hold that 10-point margin at the end, 25-15.
They scored the first two of the deciding fifth set via a Panther error and Rosemary Baer’s ace, and held off Delta the rest of the way. The Birds took control in the middle of the set when Amanda Grimm’s block, a pair of Rochefort kills, and a left-side kill by Pursel put them up 8-2.
Pettisville took game five by nine, 15-6.
“Grit,” said Horning on what is key in a five-set match like the one Tuesday. “There were a lot of missed serves. I thought when we were defensively in place ahead of time, we played some really nice defense and kept their offense in play. And then just determination. The girls have worked all year. These are moments they pay off.”
“Pettisville did a good job finding holes and spots when hitting and serving — even after we made adjustments,” said Delta Coach Heather Carrisalez. “They are a good team and it was a fun game, but our serve-receive wasn’t good enough at the end of the game and we were hitting the ball out.”
Pettisville made fewer errors than Delta in the first set, allowing them to come away with a 25-19 win. But the Panthers paid them back in the next two.
They scored the first five of the second set and led the Birds wire-to-wire. Pettisville got to within 12-10 on a Pursel shot from the middle, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the way.
A Blackbird serving error, Jessica Erd’s middle kill, Sophie Burres’ dig which fell for a Panther point, Pettisville’s hitting error and Aizlynn O’Brien’s push shot gave Delta a 17-10 cushion. They later turned that into a 25-16 victory to even up the match.
Outside of the beginning when the Birds took a lead thanks to a Panther serving error, Delta was in control for much of game three as well.
A pair of Pettisville hitting mistakes, plus a pair of Kate Friess’ kills and an ace by Erd extended Delta’s lead at 17-11 — a six point margin they would hold at the end of the set.
“We finally came together for two sets and we made a few mistakes and just couldn’t get past the errors,” said Carrisalez of winning games two and three but ultimately dropping the match.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.