LAGRANGE — You couldn’t ask for a more competitive volleyball match then the one Firelands and Keystone staged at the Wildcats gym Tuesday night.
When the smoke cleared, the Wildcats came away with the 25-14, 22-25, 25-7, 23-25, 15-6 win in Patriot Athletic Conference play.
“Definitely intense,” Keystone junior Taylor Stefan said. “There was a lot of up-and-down during this game. The team really managed to keep our spirits up throughout everything whether we made a mistake and (Firelands) was doing well during a run. I’m really happy our team managed to stay up and keep the energy.”
Keystone (3-6, 3-2 PAC) dominated the first and third games but relinquished late leads in both the sec-ond and fourth games. The Wildcats had a lock on the second game, leading 21-15, when Firelands roared back. The Falcons (1-5, 1-4) scored two straight points on a Wildcats hitting error and McKenna Turton’s kill to slice the lead to 21-17. A block-kill by Keystone’s Ashley Elliott made it 22-17, but Firelands ran off the next eight points to win.
Samantha Walcott had two kills, Turton one and Taylor Kenska a block-kill during the rally. Briana Bower served the final seven points, including an ace.
Keystone aided the push with two hitting errors, a service error and a receiving error.
“The whole story of our season is errors,” Keystone coach Bud Trego said. “When we play consistent and cut down on our errors, we play pretty well. When errors happen, we let everyone in the game.”
The Wildcats rolled to an easy win in Game 3 behind three aces by Gabby Price to jump in front 6-0, but Firelands again showed its grit and determination in Game 4 after falling behind 23-20.
“They have a lot of fight in them,” Firelands coach Jordan Kolarik said of her players. “It was nice to see how much fight they can have. It’s the consistency.”
Sam Walcott, Bianca Inman, Kristin DeWitt and Emily Squires played inspired volleyball at the net at times for Firelands.
Keystone took charge in the fifth game, pulling out to a 14-6 lead but even then, there were many great volleys and plays made on both sides.
“We both worked really hard,” Keystone senior captain Kayla Colon said. “I think our girls did a really nice job of not giving up. We have been working on focusing to be sure we go after every ball. I thought we did a really good job of that.”
Keystone’s work at the service line paid dividends. Colon had 17 points, Price finished with six aces and 16 points, and Amy Sobel added five aces and 13 points. Sobel also had a dozen kills.
“It was fun,” Trego said. “Two scrappy teams going after each other. It was a lot of fun. (Firelands) never stopped. They kept coming back at us.
“I’m proud of the way the girls played. They were hustling, they dove after everything. In games past, we let balls drop that I thought we should have got to. (Tuesday), I thought we played really well.”
Stefan had 10 kills, one block-kill and assisted on three others. Taylor Sackett had one solo block and a pair of assists. Colon (20 digs), Macey Hartley (15) and Amy Sobel (14) led Keystone’s defense.
“We really wanted to win,” Stefan said. “We were willing to do anything. It was a fun game. We love games like that.”
Leading the Falcons on defense were Hannah Reynolds with 26 digs and Madison Palmer with 22.
“We had really, really nice energy at points,” Kolarik said. “The problem was we didn’t have that energy on a consistent enough basis. When we looked good, we looked really good, but there’s too many highs and lows. Keystone did a better job of being more consistent than we did.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keystone 25-22-25-23-15, Firelands 14-25-7-25-6
KILLS: (K) Amy Sobel 12. (F) Sam Walcott 11.
DIGS: (K) Kayla Colon 20. (F) Hannah Reynolds 26.
BLOCKS: (K) Taylor Stefan 4 (1 solo, 3 assists).
ASSISTS: (K) Amy Sobel 24. Brianna Bowyer 18.
ACES: (K) Gabby Price 6. (F) Briana Bowyer, Hannah Reynolds, Madison Palmer, McKenna Turton 1 each.