It was a disappointing Tuesday night for Martins Ferry as it jumped out to a 2-0 lead and then unraveled as St. Clairsville battled back to take the next three sets to steal the win in five sets, 16-25, 26-28, 25-16, 25-21 and 15-11.
The Red Devils started the evening off with four straight service errors and looked disorganized on the floor as the Purple Riders dominated the opener.
"Give credit to Martins Ferry's defense," said St. Clairsville head coach Christa Truchan. "They went and got balls that normally would have fell for us and really took us out of our game."
St. Clairsville’s Alexis St. Clair (13) tips the ball over the net as Martins Ferry’s Shaina Oberdick and Shaye DeLeonardis defend for the Purple Riders.
St. Clairsville snapped back into contention in the second set which was a classic see-saw battle featuring lengthy volleys as the two teams traded game-point opportunities. The Purple Riders prevailed 28-26 and looked well on their way to a 3-game sweep when the Red Devils pulled out of their dive and began to shift their play to the net, winning the third set in convincing fashion.
Martins Ferry seemed to take little note of the win and came out looking confident in the fourth moving out from an 11-all tie to take a 17-12 lead. The prospects looked dim for the Red Devils as they trailed 19-15 and faced elimination. St. Clairsville then went on a 9-point run to rock the Riders, facing game point 24-19. The Purple rallied to score two more points and narrow the gap but the Red Devils held on 25-21 to force a fifth and final set.
"We have been working on our mental toughness," said a happy and relieved Truchan. "We have been working hard on our confidence and our team play. I think it is paying off because it took a total team effort tonight."
Once again the two teams fought a back-and-forth battle, trading side outs to a 6-all tie. Then the Red Devils once again would find a rhythm and roll up five straight points to take an 11-6 lead.
"In a short set, with just 15 points for the win, each point takes on a bigger importance," Truchan said. "I think that run was very important. It shifted the momentum for us."
The Purple Riders never put their heads down and battled for each point, but could not make up the deficit and watched St. Clairsville celebrate as they suffered another frustrating loss.
Alexis St. Clair paced the Red Devils with 16 kills, three blocks and 10 digs. Allie Harrison was setting up the net for the hitters notching 42 assists. Rebekah Sadlowski delivered 14 kills from those sets with 31 points while Bridgee Mick added 13 spikes, 12 digs and served up seven points for St. Clairsville. Ashleigh Moulder notched seven kills and two blocks and Summer Gallentine dug up 17 for the Red Devils as they improve to 4-3.
Shaina Oberdick led the Purple Riders at the net with 11 kills. Dakota West was covering the floor digging up 28 for the hosts. Cassie Hanson added 14 assists, 12 points, 11 digs and two kills. Shaye DeLeonardis served up 12 points, contributed 14 digs, nine assists, five blocks and two kills for Martins Ferry as it dropped to 3-4.
St. Clairsville will host Steubenville Thursday while the Purple Riders travel to Barnesville.
The Red Devils won the JV contest 18-25, 25-16 and 25-22.
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