TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — They say bad things come in three’s.
For the third straight match the Eastern volleyball team won the opening two games before dropping the next three and falling by a 3-2 final. On Tuesday, it was Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division guest Waterford that rallied past the Lady Eagles for the victory and season sweep.
After five early lead changes in the opening game, Eastern (8-8, 4-6 TVC Hocking) established a four-point advantage at 11-7. Waterford (11-4, 8-2) clawed back to take the lead at 14-13, and the Lady Wildcats held the lead until EHS tied the game at 17. Eastern grabbed a 21-19 advantage, but WHS answered right back to take a 22-21 lead. However, the Lady Eagles scored the next four points, three of which came on serves by Katlyn Barber, sealing the 25-22 triumph.
The teams played evenly through the start of the second game, exchanging three leads before being tied for the sixth time at 7-7. The Lady Eagles grabbed an 8-7 lead and led the rest of the way, charging to a 25-18 victory and a 2-0 lead in the match.
The third game featured 12 lead changes and 18 ties, the last of which came at 25-25. Waterford, which had trailed 23-22, claimed the third by a 27-25 tally, forcing a fourth game.
Eastern battled back from an early fourth game deficit to take a lead at 12-11. However, the Lady Wildcats scored the next nine points en route to a 25-19 win, which forced a fifth and final game.
The Lady Eagles led 3-1 in the fifth, but WHS rattled off 10 consecutive points to take control at 11-3. Trailing 14-5, Eastern posted six points in a last-ditch effort, but Waterford held on for the 15-11 victory.
“The only thing that I know to do is to level up practice and make practice physically tougher to make us mentally stronger,” Eastern head coach Katie Williams said. “We have to be able to perform at a high level even when we are in uncomfortable situations, so we’re going to put them in some uncomfortable situations in practice and see if they can level up.”
The Lady Eagle service attack was led by Barber with 17 points, followed by Morgain Little and libero Elayna Bissell with 12 points each. EHS senior Kelsey Johnson posted eight points, Morgan Baer added five, while Brittney Leach rounded out the team total with three. Bissell had a team-high two aces, while Baer, Little, Barber and Leach each added one.
At the net, Eastern was led by Annalisa Boano with 14 kills and seven blocks, followed by Barber with 13 kills and one block. Johnson posted nine kills and three blocks, Mackenzie Brooks added five kills, Little finished with four kills and two blocks, while Baer had one kill, three blocks and a team-high 42 assists. Barber led Eastern’s defense with 21 digs, followed by Boano with 16 and Johnson with 13.
Waterford’s service attack was led by libero Lydia Beardsley with 25 points and four aces, followed by Jillian McCutcheon with eight points. Dani Drayer posted a match-best 19 kills to lead the Lady Wildcats at the net, while Alli Kern added nine kills and one block. Megan Ball posted six kills and four blocks for WHS, while McCutcheon marked a team-high 28 assists. Drayer led the Waterford defense with 15 digs, followed by Kern with 13 and Beardsley with 10.
Waterford also defeated Eastern on September 8, in Washington County. The Lady Eagles also led 2-0 in losses to Southern on September 22, and Federal Hocking on September 28.
“We’re coming out and getting two games in a row against these good teams,” said Williams. “We’re capitalizing on free balls and our ball handling in the first two games looks traditionally really good, but it starts to slip off.”
The Lady Eagles return to action on Thursday when they invade Miller. EHS claimed a straight-games victory over the Lady Falcons on September 10, at ‘The Nest’.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.