Newark Catholic volleyball coach Jeri Helfer urged her players before the fourth set to finish Monday’s match right then.
When NC was trailing 16-5, it instead appeared the Green Wave were headed for another furious fight to finish. Not so fast.
The Green Wave rallied from that deficit to win the set and match against visiting Granville, 16-25, 25-18, 25-13, 26-24, in Licking County League play. NC took sole possession of second place, one game behind Licking Valley.
“It was definitely great to come back,” sophomore Taylor Daignault said. “Sometimes, we start off rough, but we know we can do it. We believe in each other, and when we are on fire, we are on fire. That is what happened (Monday night).”
NC led its season-opening match against Valley 2-1, but a loss in the fourth set the stage for the Panthers to steal the fifth set and match from the Green Wave. NC did not make the same mistake again.
Becca Kapavik had two kills on overpasses during Jenna Bourne’s serve as NC (7-1, 7-1) trimmed its deficit from 16-5 to 16-12. Christine Joyce’s tip actually gave NC the lead at 19-18. After trailing 24-21, Granville (8-3, 6-2) tied the set at 24, but NC scored the final two points.
“That type of comeback is definitely something we can draw on (later in) the year,” Helfer said. “If we get into a situation, now we have done it, and we can go back to that.”
Just as NC did earlier this season against Heath, the Green Wave rallied after a bad first set. Daignault’s kill finished the second set, and that seemed to get her rolling as she had two kills right off the bat in the third.
“Everybody has to step up and get excited for every single point,” said Daignault, who had a team-high 11 kills. “It has so much to do with the game. It brings the other team down. It brings us up. I just try to be a leader.”
Overall, it was a balanced attack for the Green Wave. Supporting Daignault, Jill Blacksten added eight kills, Bourne seven and Kapavik six. Blacksten had six of the Green Wave’s 16 blocks.
The Green Wave provided plenty of offensive options for setters Kelly Clapper and Megan Stanton. Clapper sneaked a kill over the next to tie that pivotal fourth set during the comeback.
“We had everybody scoring from all different positions, and that is what it is going to take,” Helfer said. “We keep talking about team defense and team offense. In the past, we have had middles, and that is who we feed the ball to. Now, we can feed the ball all over the place, and that helps with our youth at setter. (Stanton) definitely feels comfortable giving anybody the ball in a tight situation.”
Granville coach Todd Parkison was left a bit stunned. The Blue Aces kept their momentum from recent convincing victories against Heath and Lakewood in the first set.
Taylor Black had four kills, and Becca Flathers and Sophia Hutras added three kills apiece in the first set. The Blue Aces then lost their way under a pile of unforced errors.
“Our passing went away,” Parkison said. “Our serve receive went away, and once it goes away, you are out of system. Once you are out of system, you can’t get any kills, and it gives them all of the momentum. It is surprising because usually our strong point is our defense.”
Flathers had 11 kills and three aces, and Malia Peterson added six kills. Grace Imhoff had four aces, and Ainsley Harmon and Sarah Imhoff had three apiece.