Five-set matches were rare occurrences for John Glenn’s volleyball team during the regular season.
The Muskies played in just one all season in winning 20 matches and the Muskingum Valley League title.
It showed against West Holmes on Thursday.
After forcing a fifth set with a rousing finish to the fourth, John Glenn appeared to secure valuable momentum.
But the Knights scored 11 of the first 12 points of the fifth in a 25-16, 23-25, 25-17, 19-25, 15-4 Division II sectional win at River View.
Muskie coach Christie McGee expected nothing less than a difficult match against battle-tested West Holmes (17-6), who earned the No. 3 seed at the draw and played a difficult regular season schedule.
The two spent much of the match trading counterpunches, but the Knights had the haymakers late.
“I thought it would go right down to the end, but unfortunately for us it didn’t go far enough to the end,” McGee said. “We just didn’t play well that fifth game.”
Resilient John Glenn (20-3) took two of the middle three sets after being outplayed in the first.
But after scoring six of the final seven points to close the fourth — four of them on kills — the Muskies lost their magic.
The Knights registered kills on five of the first seven points in the fifth as they successfully ran their offense, forcing McGee to call a pair of timeouts to try and stop the bleeding.
A block from Taylour Fatheree made it 11-3, but the writing was on the wall.
“It was our bad serve receive,” McGee said of her team’s fifth-set struggles. “They served tough and we passed poorly.”
Both teams struggled at times with attack errors and miscommunication, but John Glenn almost overcame them with determined play along the net, led by Fatheree and Sydney McCollister.
They had 18 kills and eight blocks between them, with Fatheree getting 11 and eight, respectively.
But West Holmes consistently had the better ball movement and attack opportunities, which proved to be the difference.
The Knights, which had just two seniors, had 43 kills to the Muskies’ 29, with Raichella Erman and Paiten Strother getting 30 between them.
Sophomore setter Cara Park, already committed to Akron, had 43 assists.
Despite the win, West Holmes coach Jim Park lamented his team’s play.
“When you have over 30 hitting errors against a good team, you’re going to let them hang around and that’s what happened,” Park said. “They didn’t fall off the boat and get 20 wins. They played a lot better than we expected.”
Maddie McGee added seven kills, Brook Fatheree had 30 assists and Brittany Fraunfelter 19 digs.