Forget calling them the Crimson Flashes. On Wednesday night, Willard was the Comeback Kids.
After being stuffed and swatted in the first two games, losing 25-13, 25-19, the Crimson Flashes came back to beat Lexington 25-20, 25-15, 15-12 in a Division II district semifinal volleyball match at Seneca East High School.
“We never gave up. It’s a cliché to say. But we really didn’t,” Willard senior middle hitter Laura Danhoff said. “We had smiles on our faces.”
Willard isn’t new to five-game matches and comebacks. It’s been the way the Flashes have gone about their business in recent weeks.
“I do think we played well as a team and when one struggles, they all step up. They never get mad at each other,” Willard coach Bridgette Cochran said.
That mindset served them well after having a hard time getting into any kind of flow in the first two games as Lexington’s size advantage hindered them. They kept it close in the third game as Lexington errors helped Willard’s cause. The Flashes scored the last four points of the game to stay alive.
In the fourth, Willard gradually pulled away, while in the fifth, they scored the final three points off a Hannah Adams tip that looked like it was going to be an overpass, a Danhoff kill and a Caroline Elis kill.
Danhoff finished with 19 kills, while Marie Thornton – Willard’s other middle hitter – added nine kills.
The two combined for 10 stuff blocks for Willard (16-8). Lexington (19-6) got18 kills from Jenni Payne, 10 from Alannah Lemming and 11 from Mackenzie Weaver. Lemming had five blocks and Weaver had three.
The win give Willard a third crack at No. 4 Norwalk, an easier winner over Shelby, 25-7, 25-18, 25-12 in the first match. Willard pushed Norwalk in their last match, losing the first two games by 25-23 margins.
“We’re going to get in their heads and be really excited,” Danhoff said. “The last time we were close and they couldn’t believe it.”
Cochran expects her squad to stay with the script.
“I think we stayed positive. We never felt out of it. We stayed mentally tough and volleyball is such a huge mental sport,” the Willard coach said.
In the first game for Shelby (15-9), Devon Murray led with 11 kills..