GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — You could easily say that it went down to the wire.
After battling through 18 ties and 23 lead changes throughout the course of five grueling games, the Ohio Valley Christian volleyball team remained unbeaten by the slimmest of margins Monday night following a 22-25, 25-20, 9-25, 25-20, 15-13 decision over visiting Point Pleasant in a non-conference match in the Old French City.
The Lady Defenders (12-0) had been pushed to five games only once this season, but this was the first time that the hosts were facing an uphill climb as the Lady Knights rolled through Game 3 en route to a 2-1 match advantage.
PPHS (4-2) took a trio of four-point leads early in Game 4, but the Lady Defenders rallied back from a 12-8 deficit by scoring six straight points for a 14-12 edge.
OVCS never trailed again in Game 4 and were up by as many as six points (23-17) before tying the match at two games apiece with a five-point decision.
In the all-important fifth game, Point Pleasant jumped out to an early 2-0 edge before the hosts countered with 10 of the next 11 points — giving the Lady Defenders a commanding 10-3 cushion in the race to 15.
The Lady Knights, however, rallied back from a 14-9 deficit by scoring the next four points — which whittled the lead down to 14-13.
On the ensuing point, Point Pleasant mustered a spike attempt down the left sideline that just missed its mark according to the line judge. The Lady Knights thought the kill was good, but the call stood and allowed OVCS to escape with its perfect record still intact.
In a match that featured so many peaks and valleys for both squads, Ohio Valley Christian coach Heather Priddy was pleased that her kids found a way to dig themselves out of a 2-1 hole.
She also noted that for all of the effort by her troops, she cannot help but feel that the team is also getting a little help from a higher power.
“We are fighters. We are called the Defenders and it was an appropriate name tonight,” Priddy said. “These girls have stepped up to the occasion all year and they did so again tonight when it was most needed.
“In a lot of ways, this season seems to be blessed by God’s hand so far. We’re doing everything right and together, and the results are ending up in our favor because of that. Between the effort of the kids and the Lord above, everything is just going well for us — and we are definitely thankful for that.”
PPHS coach Marla Cottrill acknowledged afterwards that the out call on the final play had very little to do with the final outcome, mainly because she felt that her kids put themselves in a situation that could have been avoided.
Then again, she also noted that this result can be a really good learning tool for the rest of the Lady Knights’ campaign.
“We made a lot of mental mistakes, and that was ultimately the difference in the game,” Cottrill said. “We did a lot of things tonight that ended up costing us the match, rather it be serving in the net or dinking the ball over the net instead of trying to kill it. Those are the things that we need to improve on after battling through tonight.
“I’m proud of their effort and I know the girls wanted this one, but there is also a lot to learn from it. If we can improve on the areas that let us down tonight, we’ll be a better team by season’s end because of it.”
Katie Bradley led the OVCS service attack with 11 points, followed by Katie Westfall and Rachel Sargent with 10 points apiece. Cori Hutchison and Emily Childers each contributed seven points, while Marcie Kessinger added five points.
Westfall led the net attack with 21 kills and Bradley added 17 kills, while Sargent chipped in 12 kills and a team-high four blocks. Childers and Hutchison also contributed seven and five kills, respectively, for the victors.
Lanea Cochran led the PPHS service attack with 14 points, followed by Olivia Dotson with 13 points and Gracie Cottrill with 11 points. Brenna Dotson was next with eight points, while Michaela Cottrill and Luiza Da Costa rounded things out with with respective totals of six and two points.
Da Costa led the Point Pleasant net attack with 11 kills, followed by Brenna Dotson with seven kills and a team-best 10 blocks. Cochran and Michaela Cottrill were next with four kills apiece, while Olivia Dotson and Gracie Cottrill added three and two kills respectively.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.