CONNORVILLE Buckeye Local sits in the number 4 spot in the OVAC 4A volleyball standings and with Union Local just behind the Panthers, head coach Shelby Luther knows each game is important if her team is going to reach their goal of making the playoffs. Bellaire made the home-standing Panthers battle for every point as it took the maximum 5 sets to decide the outcome as Buckeye Local prevailed 27-25, 17-25, 25-23, 16-25 and 15-11.
"This was not our best effort tonight, we did not play up to our ability," said a relieved Luther. "Give Bellaire credit, they played well, but we let them control the tempo and did not play our game tonight."
The first set saw Bellaire take an 18-11 lead but the Panthers rallied to knot it up at 21 all. The Big Reds had first shot at game point leading 25-24 but Buckeye Local would complete the comeback for the 27-25 win.
Bellaire's Elisha Gillespie and Aubrey Ryan block a spike from Buckeye Local outside hitter Becca Rector while teammate Kayla Fillopovich attempts the save as the ball returns over the net onto the Panthers court during their match Monday evening. The Lady Panthers prevailed. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
The next set was a see-saw battle then the Big Reds rallied to score 5 straight and mount a 20-15 lead. This time Bellaire would not let the Panthers get back in the door as they finished the win to even the count at 1 set apiece 25-17.
The third set stayed close throughout but the Panthers would get a key rally late to take back the lead 2-1.
Facing elimination the Big Reds came out strong and put the hosts in an early hole, 12-6. Bellaire would lead by as many as 9 in the set and looked to have the momentum going into the fifth and final 15 point set.
Buckeye Local would use its serve to jump out to a 5-1 advantage but Bellaire head coach Kay Sechrest called a time out and settled her troops. The break reset the tone as the Big Reds rallied back to narrow the score, 6-7.
The Panthers again rallied out to an 11-7 advantage before Bellaire would once again close the gap 11-12. That would be all the scoring for the Big Reds as Buckeye Local rallied out for the win.
"We are young and still have to learn how to finish," said Sechrest. "It was a tough one to lose but I can't fault them, they played well tonight."
Buckeye Local was led at the net by Kayla Fillipovich with 12 kills and 2 blocks. Amy Balk added 8 kills, 9 points, 4 digs and one block. Becca Rector notched 5 deadly spikes, 12 assists. 4 digs and served up 11 points. Morgan Staten added 4 kills, 10 digs, and 11 points while Lexus Fedorko set 8 assists with 2 digs and 6 points.
Bellaire was paced by Mackenzie Conroy with 8 kills and 22 digs. Lindsey McMahon and Hunter Eden also notched 8 kills, Lindsey with 13 assists, 11 digs and 5 aces while Hunter added 18 digs. Taylar Canter dug up 26 for the Big Reds and Elisha Gillespie notched 6 deadly spikes with 5 digs and 5 aces. Tori Duffy added 16 digs and 14 assists to round out the stats for the Big Reds.
Bellaire drops to 3-8 and will host Martins Ferry as the Big Reds have planned a special fund raising event for Harlei Parker tonight. Buckeye Local improves to 7-6.