The Buckeye Valley Barons had a chance to take sole possession of first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division volleyball standings, but dug themselves too many holes and were the victims of one huge, yet unfortunate, bad break.
The Barons fought through adversity and fought back from deficits in their match against visiting Highland, but the Scots came away with the four-game, 25-14, 25-23, 26-28, 25-23 victory Tuesday at Buckeye Valley High School.
Buckeye Valley (8-4, 5-3 MOAC Red) was strong in every game, but the Barons were victims of a Highland (11-4, 5-2) serving and hitting run in the final moments of the first game, and gave up potential points in the next two, falling behind by as many as eight points midway through both the second and third games.
“That’s exactly right,” Buckeye Valley coach Chris Manganello said. “I told the girls we need to quit challenging ourselves by giving points away and creating situations where we have to fight back. It takes a toll on you, but we’re a good team and we’re not giving up on our season yet.”
Buckeye Valley had a golden opportunity to tie the second game. After rallying from a 16-8 deficit to take a 23-22 lead, a service error gave the point and the service to Highland, who then scored the final two points to take a 2-0 advantage.
But the Barons eventually bounced back, though they had to mount yet another rally to do so.
Highland took a 16-7 lead midway through the third game, but with senior Megan Keller serving, senior hitters Callie Hawkins and Cori Ray clubbed the Barons back to within four points, 16-12.
After Highland regained the serve, a Hawkins kill gave the ball back to the Barons, and Hawkins then served the next four points with three aces, putting Buckeye Valley ahead 18-17.
Highland didn’t go away, eventually getting a chance at match point after a Baron serve error, but the Barons turned the chance away and finished the game with a Ray kill, an assist and an ace from Keller and a Highland attack error to take it to a fourth game.
“We talk about that stuff all the time,” Manganello said. “When you have the opportunity to create the momentum and set the tone, you have to execute. We missed three points in the last five points. I thought we had it in hand, but we kept bringing them back.”
Game four was close all the way. The Barons managed to take a 15-10 lead just into the second rotation only to see Highland fight back to take a 24-21 lead after a Buckeye Valley time out, but a Highland serve error cut the deficit to two points and gave the Barons a chance.
Hawkins had two blocks and a kill on the next point to close within one, and Ray had an attack on the next point that a Highland defender deflected up into the basketball goal. The ball was still live and it seemed destined Buckeye Valley would tie the score at 24, but one official inadvertently blew his whistle, stopping play. The officials conferred, and a replay was ruled.
After that, the Scots dug the ensuing service to setter Shayla Pierce, who then passed to hitter Kam Terry, who sent the kill to the floor to end the match.
“That is the rule, unfortunately,” Manganello said. “It was a replay. I thought we had them back on their heels at that point and it didn’t take away our momentum or emotion, but we just couldn’t close it out.”
Buckeye Valley still had a solid match all around. Hawkins topped the Baron attackers with 17 kills, led all blockers with seven and was 11 for 14 on service with three kills.
Ray added 12 and senior Kerry Godsil adding eight. Keller finished with 29 assists and was perfect on 19 serves with two kills, while Artea Kenney was perfect on 23 serves with an ace. Ivy Hankins also had two kills and Kaci Eurez one for the Barons.
Sam Zuber topped all hitters with 21 kills for Highland. Pierce finished with a game-high 38 assists.
Liberty picked up yet another OCC-Cardinal Division win Tuesday in Dublin, knocking off Jerome in three games.
The Patriots won the first 25-15 before sealing the deal with wins of 25-19 and 25-23.
Stat leaders included Morgan Tyree and Stephanie Ruffing. Ruffing had 11 digs and a team-best 14 kills while Tyree finished with 11 digs to go with her 12 kills. Other standouts included Cassandra Zahran, who had 31 assists; and Kenna Koehler, who closed with three aces.
Mount Vernon came from behind to beat host Hayes Tuesday, winning in four games.
The Pacers were impressive in winning the first game by a 25-22 margin, but the Yellow Jackets notched the OCC-Capital Division win with three straight victories by scores of 25-20, 25-18 and 25-15.
Big Walnut fought off Orange Tuesday in Lewis Center, nabbing a 25-19, 25-23, 25-21 OCC-Capital Division win to improve to 9-1 in league play.
Golden Eagle standouts included Sammie Ebright, who finished with 13 kills and three aces; Natalie Chatterton, who finished with four kills and three aces; and Kylee Williams, who had three kills and three aces in the win.
Olentangy improved to 10-4 overall and 6-3 in OCC-Cardinal Division action with Tuesday’s three-game win over host Marysville.
The Braves, who served at a 90-percent clip while compiling a combined 15 aces, won 25-21, 25-19, 25-18.
Leaders included Allie Brown and Kasia Walczak, who finished with nine kills each.