It was a long evening of rivalry volleyball in the Frontier Athletic Conference as the Miami Trace Lady Panthers brought three teams to Washington High School Tuesday.
Miami Trace won the freshman match, 25-13, 25-12.
The Lady Panthers won the junior-varsity match, 25-22, 20-25 and 25-13.
Finally, it was time for the varsity match, which went the distance.
Miami Trace won the match in five sets; 17-25, 25-16, 25-21, 24-26 and 15-5.
Miami Trace improves to 11-0 overall, 5-0 in the FAC.
Washington is now 3-2 in the FAC.
Rivals often bring out the best in a team and that was the case tonight for Washington, going against Miami Trace.
“Absolutely,” Washington head coach Ashley DeAtley said. “We knew it was going to be a tough match. We knew they have some strong hitters.
“We’ve struggled during the last week to find our groove and find the things that go right,” DeAtley said. “Tonight, what I was most proud of was, my girls kept the fire. They kept working through and working hard. They wanted it.
“We were working together and making sure that we were working with our hearts,” DeAtley said. “We dug deep. We knew it was going to be tough and we had to push through.”
The match almost ended after four sets as Miami Trace, leading two sets to one, was sitting with match points, 24-21.
At this point, one could say, Washington dug about its deepest, fending off those match points until they not only tied the set, but scored five points in a row to win, 26-24, sending the match to a tie-breaking fifth set, which goes to 15.
“I was really proud of the fact that the girls pulled out that fourth set,” DeAtley said. “We served aggressively at them. Our front row was playing really smart. We were trying to find those open holes and trying to get a big block up.”
The fifth and deciding set saw Miami Trace roll out to an 11-1 lead.
“Kudos to my girls for sticking in there and really trying to rally all the way until the end,” DeAtley said. “Things weren’t going our way and (Miami Trace) was running some quick things that kind of threw us off our feet at the end. I was still proud of the girls for standing up and fighting against them.
“Brittney Wilson did a great job being able just to hang in there and rally her team up,” DeAtley said. “And Aaralyne (Estep) in the back row and Jeleeya Smith. And we missed Emily Semler. She hurt her ankle on Thursday. She’s one of our lead hitters and lead passers. Not having her, the team had to rally around her somehow.
“We came out to fight and to win,” DeAtley said. “Even though it didn’t go our way, we’ll be ready for the next one.”
“That was a big battle,” Miami Trace head coach Doug Mace said. “This game for us, by being such a big rivalry between the two schools and the kids; these kids play club ball together, they are friends. You could tell the school pride for both teams was out there tonight and that was awesome to see.
“I’m glad we won,” Mace said. “I never go into a match not wanting to win, but, I really appreciated the way both teams played really hard. You can throw the records out every time we meet.
“We’ve beaten them a couple of times when they probably should have won,” Mace said. “I’m sure Ashley could say the same thing. That was just really fun. That is the way you want it to be. You want it to be a hard-fought game, with either team having a chance to win. Tonight, we were fortunate enough to pull it off. I expect another battle with them here in a couple of weeks.”
Washington plays at Miami Trace on Thursday, Oct. 8.
Statistically for Miami Trace, Olivia Fliehman had 23 kills and Laura Robinson had 16 kills.
Sophia Parsons had 10 kills and six solo blocks.
Faith Morrison led Miami Trace in digs (number not available).
Statistically for Washington: Aaralyne Estep had five ace serves; Mallory Hicks had two and Rachel Palmer and Jeleeya Tyree-Smith both had one ace.
Brittney Wilson had five kills, Kassidy Olsson and Palmer each had four kills.
Olivia Wayne led Washington with 12 assists; Allie Mongold had four and Amya Haithcock had two.
Hicks had one solo block and two block assists; Olsson had seven block assists; Wilson and Palmer each had five block assists.
Estep led with 23 digs, Tyree-Smith had 15 and Wilson and Wayne both had 11 digs.