Coming back from seven match points against Kell — or any opponent, for that matter — is a rare feat, but the eighth-ranked Lady Grizzlies nearly pulled it off. They were one point away from tying the second set, but Kell managed to hold on and prevail 25-18, 25-23 in the Area 7AAAAA match.
“I think we let them get too far ahead for us to catch up,” Creekview coach Abigail Jackson said.
Coming off a smooth performance in a straight-set win over North Springs earlier in the tri-match, Creekview (14-10, 2-2) wasn’t as fluid against Kell and made too many hitting and passing errors to keep up.
That was, however, until the Lady Longhorns had seven match point attempts.
The first match point was saved when Julia Dayoub dug up a near-guaranteed attack by Ashley Jones, and Creekview went on to win the point on an errant attack by Kell’s Anna Fenstermaker.
Once Kayley Edgar took serve, Creekview took over the match.
An ace by Edgar cut Kell’s lead to five. Emily Lehman and Courtney O’Connor then successfully blocked another attack. The Lady Longhorns followed with another hitting error before Edgar came through with another ace.
That made the score
24-22, with Kell’s chances evaporating. Creekview’s surge made the Lady Longhorns so timid on the next point that they were giving the Lady Grizzlies free balls instead of attacking. And Mary Nell Williams thanked them with a smash to make it 24-23.
That’s when Kell called a timeout.
On the following point, Jones attempted a kill on the first point to put Creekview away, but the Lady Grizzlies stayed alive with a block before swiping the ball out of their side of the net. Once the ball came back to Kell’s side of the court, the Lady Longhorns finally clinched on Fenstermaker’s kill.
“That was something we’ve been working on, trying to finish our games,” said Kell assistant Lauren Hines, who is serving as interim coach for Tracy Densmore, who is in the late stages of her pregnancy. “Creekview beat us in the tournament on Saturday. Our goal (Tuesday) was to come back, because we knew (Creekview) was a tough team. Our defense put together our offense, and we’re proud of them.”
Dayoub only had four kills against Kell. O’Connor added three and 1.5 blocks, Lehman also had 1.5 blocks and Caylee Salabarria finished with 11 assists.
The Lady Grizzlies came out with the same intensity of the opening set of their match with North Springs — a 25-15, 25-12 win — and took a quick 5-2 lead that eventually stretched to 8-4. Jones then put together a long service run that allowed Kell to tie it at 11-all, and another long run by Fenstermaker gave Kell a five-point lead.
Creekview never got within three and ended the first set with consecutive errors on serve-receive.
The Lady Grizzlies also made miscues early in the second set, which included double-hits and touching the net, and Kell went on an early service run to take a 10-3 lead.
After Creekview served 11 aces against North Springs, with Kelsey Wade accounting eight of them, the Lady Grizzles managed only three against Kell, with two coming on the late six-point run that allowed the team to stay in the match.
“It’s difficult when you’re trying to get the players to jell together, and sometimes you have to work people into the rotation, and it’s not quite where you want it to be,” Jackson said. “You know, they hustled. They tried. It’s not like they quit. I can’t complain too much.”