POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — A test, and a display, of character.
The Point Pleasant volleyball team rallied back from a 2-1 match deficit Tuesday night to claim a thrilling 25-16, 12-25, 23-25, 25-17, 15-8 victory over visiting Nitro in a non-conference contest in Mason County.
The host Lady Knights (7-1) opened the match with a convincing nine-point decision, but the Lady Wildcats led all the way through Game 2 while evening things up at one apiece.
The middle game featured 11 ties and 12 lead changes alone, with PPHS storming out to a 5-0 lead before ultimately finding itself tied at 21-all. NHS led the rest of the way and broke serve with a 24-23 edge to wrap up the minimal two-point win while taking a 2-1 match advantage.
Nitro led briefly in the fourth game, but the hosts reeled off 21 of 30 points en route to a 21-11 lead — their largest of the night. Point went on to win Game 4 by an eight-point margin, forcing a pivotal race to 15 in the finale.
The Lady Knights — who had only two more points in the match than the guests through four games — never trailed in Game 5 after building early leads of 5-1 and 10-5 before closing the match out with a 5-3 run.
Out of Point’s seven victories this season, this was the only match so far that has not been completed in a straight-game fashion.
The Lady Knights also extended their current winning streak to three straight after posting straight-game decisions over both Wayne (25-20, 25-23) and Lincoln County (25-11, 25-5) just 24 hours earlier.
It was a bit of a roller-coaster ride, but PPHS coach Marla Cottrill believed that her squad showed a lot of quality signs when things seemed to be at their worst. More than anything, she thought it was a real sign of collective growth.
“I think we may have gotten a little over-confident after that first set, but it did seem that we had some momentum working for us,” Cottrill said. “Nitro really came back at us because they are a good team, and that’s what good teams do. All of our girls found a way to get it done after we went down 2-1, and that’s the thing I’m most proud of. We did the little things right when we had to and that’s why we are getting out here tonight with a good win.”
Nitro led by as many as six points in the opening game after building a 9-3 edge, but the hosts rallied to tie things at 12-all before reeling off eight consecutive points for a 20-12 lead. Both squads traded points the rest of the way before Point claimed a 25-16 win.
The Lady Cats responded with a wire-to-wire rout in Game 2 as the guests built a 20-10 lead and cruised to a 13-point win, their largest lead of the night.
After suffering a bit of heartbreaker in Game 3, the Lady Knights fell behind 2-0 in the fourth game before reeling off five of the next eight points for a tie at five. PPHS won 10 of the next 15 points while building a 15-10 cushion, then went on a 10-7 run down the stretch to force a fifth game after tying the match up at two-all.
Point Pleasant controlled the finale after establishing leads of 3-0, 5-1 and 10-5, then the hosts took their biggest lead in the fifth game at 14-5.
NHS rallied back with three consecutive points, but the Lady Knights broke serve to wrap up the 3-2 match triumph.
Gracie Cottrill led Point Pleasant with 24 service points, followed by Madison Hatfield with 10 points. Both Cottrill and Hatfield also had two aces apiece for the hosts.
Mackenzie Freeman, Olivia Dotson and Brenna Dotson were next with six points each, while Peyton Jordan chipped in five points.
Lanea Cochran led the PPHS net attack with 11 kills and four blocks, while Olivia Dotson added five kills. Cottrill and Brenna Dotson each contributed four kills, while Tristan Wilson also had two kills.
Brenna Dotson and Wilson also chipped in three blocks and two blocks, respectively.
Kayla Gunnoe led the Nitro service attack with 14 points, followed by Trinity McDonald and Anna Welch with 11 points apiece.
Haley Ireland was next with five points, while Baylee Gordon and Amy Welch added four points apiece in the setback.
The Lady Knights return to action Thursday when they travel to Hannan for a Mason County showdown at 6 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.