MORRISTOWN - It took the full five sets to decide a victor in "The Hangar' as Union Local dropped the last set 16-14 to visiting Bellaire Tuesday night.
The Big Red looked strong in the opening set and, despite a late charge by the hosts, prevailed 25-20. Union Local got in a hole early in the second set but bounced back to knot the score at 18 apiece before rallying to even the score with a 25-18 win.
The Jets had confidence and momentum as they took the advantage 2-1 but then something head coach Karl Penz dubbed "inexplicable" happened to his UL squad.
Union Local’s Mikayla Patton (17) sends a spike over Big Red defender Hunter Eden.
"We had just rallied back to take a 2-1 deficit and we had the momentum, but when the girls came out on the court for the fourth set you would have thought Bellaire had won the last game because they were smiling ... they seemed to have all of the confidence and the momentum."
The Big Reds easily won the fourth frame by a 25-11 final score which pleased head coach Kaye Sechrest.
"I think they have finally got over that hump. We are starting to believe in ourselves and we have confidence that we can win these games," she said.
The fifth set was not going to be a carbon copy of number four as the Jets regrouped and the two teams would volley hard for each point. That hustle proved costly for the Jets as Katie Bashline was injured early in the set diving for a dig and would not return.
"I felt we did a good job in the fifth considering we lost Katie," said Penz. "We have solid moments but when something goes wrong we still have problems with our confidence."
Bellaire would reach game-point first serving at a 14-10 advantage but Union Local would rally and even the score at 14 all. The Big Reds would score the next point to settle the contest and improve to 5-3 on the season.
"It was truly a team effort," Sechrest said of the win. "We played tough at every position to earn this one."
The Big Reds stats reflected the team effort as there were contributions across the board. Hunter Eden had six kills with eight points on four aces. Cari Crozier also served up eight points, notched three kills with two blocks. Tori Duffy added 10 digs and 13 points with a pair of aces. Morgan Runyan garnered 15 points, three aces, four assists and three kills. Mary Garloch set 16 assists with 10 points to round out the Bellaire stats.
Union Local was paced at the net by Mikayla Patton with 11 kills and Cortney Otto notching 10 blocks. Kaitlynn Clark-Patterson notched seven spikes while Bashline had 15 points with seven aces. Baylee Wiseman dug up 10 and Devin Earliwine added eight digs for the Jets as they fall to 2-6.
Both squads are back in action Thursday as Bellaire will travel to Barnesville while the Jets will host backyard rival Harrison Central.
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