WENDELL — In their first ever meeting as conference opponents, the Cleveland and Corinth Holders volleyball teams displayed the kind of effort and high level of play coaches love to see.
But in the end, Corinth Holders made just enough plays to survive a resilient Rams’ team in five sets: 21-25, 25-22, 25-20, 23-25, 15-11.
The Pirates took the second and third sets after Cleveland won the opening game. But the Rams kept with the back-and-forth theme of the match and rallied for a fourth set victory that forced the final set.
In the deciding set, the Pirates jumped out to a 7-1 advantage before Cleveland found some momentum during Marina Roe’s service game to tie the set at 8-8. However, a pair of kills from Katelyn Leach and Cole Narron put Corinth Holders in position to win and they did just that on Cleveland’s ninth service error of the match.
“We’ve been in situations where we have been down before and we’ve got a bunch of mentally tough girls,” Corinth Holders coach Charles Riley said. “I have a saying, ‘next play.’
“I want them to think about the next play and move on and we were able to do that tonight.”
Early on, it looked as though it would be Cleveland to move on with a win as the duo of Roe and Courtney Morris provided an effective one-two punch for the Rams.
Roe’s 10 kills and Morris’ timely and well-placed tips had the Pirates defense scrambling. At the same time, Cleveland’s Krista Haschke was putting on a defensive exhibition as the junior libero led the Rams with 16 digs.
Haschke’s counterpart for the Pirates, Lexi Consiglio, helped shore up the defense on the back line while Lindsay Alford became a stronger presence at the net, often preventing Cleveland hitters from getting free swings.
It was behind the service line, however, where the Rams’ swings were the biggest problem.
“We just missed key serves at key times,” said Cleveland coach Megan Morris. “I don’t care what the score is, serves kill.”
Three times in the deciding set, the Rams committed costly service errors including on match point.
Brittany Bucklin added eight kills for Cleveland, which fell to 2-7 overall and 1-2 in the Two Rivers 3A Conference.
As for Corinth Holders (9-1, 3-0), a balanced attack paid off as the senior trio of Cyarra Pierson (eight kills), Narron (seven), and Alford (six) paced the Pirates. Consiglio finished with 28 digs while Kelly Ammons totaled 15 assists.
“We’ve come from 2A to 3A so fast,” Consiglio said of the Pirates move up in classification to join Cleveland in the Two Rivers league. “It feels so good to win – we would have been so upset if we had lost.”