YELLOW SPRINGS — If the coaches for host Yellow Springs or visiting Springfield Emmanuel Christian ever need an example of why not to give up in a girls volleyball match, they both can point to Tuesday’s Metro Buckeye Conference battle for first place.
Yellow Springs needed six match points to do it, but they fought off a feisty Emmanuel Christian bunch for a dramatic 25-11, 25-16, 20-25, 22-25, 16-14 win at Yellow Springs High School.
The host Bulldogs had a 14-9 lead in the deciding fifth set, but Emmanuel Christian fought off the first five match points before a Lion mishit gave Yellow Springs the win.
“My players always make these matches exciting. I think we thought we had it, we kind of let down after winning those first two sets. They came back, but we figured out a way to pull it out,” Yellow Springs coach Christine Linkhart said. “It’s the second time we’ve had to battle back like that. Against Xenia Christian earlier this season, we were down 14-11 and came back to win 17-15. This time, at least we weren’t down that much.”
Linkhart said it’s been about 4-5 years since Yellow Springs has beaten Emmanuel Christian in a girls volleyball match. She didn’t want to single out any players, saying they needed a total team effort to win.
“They all played a great match. They all do a really good job, and they’re strong players. My hitters can hit. They pass well, and they serve well. Meredith Rowe is an amazing server, I mean, she can really hit the ball. And Alex (Ronnebaum) was blocking like crazy,” Linkhart added. “I really can’t single out any one player, because they all came up big tonight.”
Unofficially, Ronnebaum finished with six kills and nine blocks. Rowe had 11 kills to go with four service aces, two of which came in the crucial fifth set. Elizabeth Smith bashed seven kills to go with a block and a service ace, Madeline Nielson had five kills and an ace, Elle Peifer rocked six kills and had two aces, Kasey Linkhart had three kills and an ace, Julie Roberts had an ace and one kill, and Payden Kegley got into the ace act with one as well for the Bulldogs, now 8-4 overall and undefeated at 4-0 in the MBC.
Linkhart rolled her eyes and laughed when asked what the win meant to her and the team.
“Oh my gosh! We haven’t beaten Emmanuel Christian for several years. And we haven’t beaten Dayton Christian for several years, either. So for us to be atop the Metro Buckeye Conference right now, to beat them, it’s been about 3-4 years since we’ve beaten them both like this, it’s really something. This means a lot to this entire team,” she said.
Emmanuel Christian coach April Hickman said she was proud of the way her Lions squad battled back, especially in those final three sets.
“We just didn’t play well in those first two games. Whether it was motivation, maybe? I don’t know,” she said. “Maybe we just needed to warm up!”
Hickman credited Miranda Jordan with a team leading nine kills and four service aces. Destanee Oliver had six kills to go with 13 digs, and Halley McClain had six blocks. The Lions are now 4-6 overall, 3-1 in the MBC. They’ll host Troy Christian on Thursday.
“It was a match that really could have gone either way,” she said. “I think it’ll be a different story when we play them again.”
Yellow Springs returns to MBC action on Thursday when they’ll play at Middletown Christian. And that ECA-Springs rematch? That will take place Oct.6 on the Lions’ home floor.
John Bombatch can be reached at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.