Columbus North was well on its way to ending 15 years of frustration when Columbus East got off the mat.
Facing a 2-0 set deficit, the Olympians roared back to win three consecutive sets and post a 22-25, 18-25, 25-16, 25-13, 15-13 victory against their county rivals.
“We have to play our game in-between the lines,” said senior Kendal Williams, who led the Olympians with 43 assists, four blocks and three aces. “That’s all we have to do, and that’s how we won that. We did a lot better on our defense, and we did a lot better on our serve-receive. It takes every single one of us to win that game.”
The Bull Dogs (12-12) had things going their way early. They won a close first set that was tight throughout, then led from start to finish in the second set.
East (8-17) then led for most of the third set. North briefly took a 13-12 lead, but after a sideout, Ashlynn Bergman served three consecutive points. After two Bull Dog points, the Olympians got a sideout and Rilee Jessee served seven straight points.
“Ashlynn Bergman came in and played a huge role for her three rotations and served the lights out of the ball,” East coach Stacie Pagnard said. “I think that adding that aggressiveness is what changed our mindset onto the attack vs. being attacked.”
The Olympians again led most of the fourth set. They led 6-5 when they got a sideout and seven consecutive points with Allison Mack at the service line.
Neither team led by more than three points in the deciding set, and the Bull Dogs led 13-12, two points away from taking the match. But Williams came through with a kill, and Mack pounded back-to-back kills to give East the victory.
“I think we just needed to have that mentality that we can beat anybody and keep playing our game,” Mack said. “We were focused more mentally, and that related to our physical play.”
Mack finished with 21 kills and three aces. Jessee collected 24 digs and three aces.
Also for the Olympians, C.J. Clausen pounded 13 kills and three blocks. Emily Banister notched 22 digs, and Bergman added 18 digs.
“We really had to focus on our first-ball contact,” Pagnard said. “We weren’t getting a whole lot of high-percentage passes from our serve-receive game, and we definitely were struggling there to find the seam and be competitive when it came to the first ball on defense. I think we improved tremendously on that.”
Lily Meyercord led North with 35 assists, 18 digs and three aces. Agustina Fainguersch pounded 22 kills, Gabby Genth had three blocks, Maddy Sebahar tallied 18 digs and Katie McAninch served three aces.
Also for the Bull Dogs, Genth notched eight kills, while Emma Tynan added seven, McAninch six and Lauryn James four. Tynan contributed two blocks and two aces, and Fainguersch added a block and 15 digs.
“We came out with a lot of intensity, and Games 3 and 4, we really dropped in that,” North coach Caitlin Greiner said. “East made some nice adjustments, and we failed to adjust, as well. We started to again in Game 5, but we couldn’t pull it out.”