WATSON – Whether it turns out to be the breakthrough moment they've been seeking remains to be seen.
But for one game Live Oak’s volleyball team was able to answer the call.
For the first time in five opportunities this season, the Lady Eagles not only rallied from an 0-2 deficit but won when extended to five sets – turning back a determined effort Thursday from Springfield 20-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-18, 15-8 at Live Oak’s C.B. Wheat Gymnasium.
“I’m super thrilled that we overcame the boundary that was stopping us from winning and just executing,” Live Oak senior Jamie Elenbaas said. “It feels so good to prove ourselves. Before, we had been beating ourselves and we have the talent. It’s just finishing and this proof that we could do it.”
Springfield, which took a 3-2 win over Live Oak two weeks ago, appeared prime to sweep the Lady Eagles. The Lady Bulldogs (4-12) not only won the first two sets but led the 18-15 after Tabby Lobell’s ace down the line in the third set.
“I feel like we’ve been put in this situation so many times,” Live Oak coach Chastity Sims said. “They’ve been put through this physically and mentally many times this season. I felt we were a little more relaxed going into the third set. They played well. I’m proud of them. They never got too down on themselves and showed just how resilient they are.”
Live Oak (7-11) starting digging from its three-point deficit, benefitting from four Springfield hitting errors and Lara Grace Cartwright’s ace to regain the lead for good.
The Lady Bulldogs remained within a point (22-21) on a wide return, but the Lady Eagles got a block from Kaitlyn Till, took advantage of two more hitting errors and Jaelyn Ray’s ace to close out the set.
“It’s tough to be down two and then win the third,” Sims said. “Once we got through that, I thought we would go. We were starting to keep the momentum even if we made a few mistakes. They didn’t let it get them down, they just moved on to the next point and kept that momentum going.”
Live Oak never trailed the remainder of the way.
The Lady Eagles, with Ray serving five points, built a sizeable lead (18-9) in the fourth set and never allowed the Lady Bulldogs within four points down the stretch.
Elenbaas, who had 18 assists, fed Cartwright and Ray for kills, Chloe Magee added another before Springfield committed a net violation and returned a ball long to square the match at 2-all.
“We say that we can do it and digging ourselves out is so much harder than just starting out and being on top and continuing that,” said Elenbaas, who added 12 digs and six kills. “In the end it made us work harder and it feels better to come out on top. It feels like magic that we as a team can do something like that.”
The final set was tied three times, the final sequence at 7-7, when a wide serve from Springfield opened the door for Live Oak to gradually pull away.
Cartwright delivered an ace and the combination of Elenbaas to Ray worked once again with Ray winding up with seven kills to go along with 17 digs and five aces.
Kate Campbell provided 32 digs and seven kills for the Lady Eagles, who scored the last five points of the set which included a pair of errors from Springfield and some defensive miscommunication that resulted in a 14-8 lead when the Lady Bulldogs were unable to convert a second pass off Magee’s serve and get the ball back over the net on the final point.
Lobell was a tower of strength for Springfield in the early stages picking up seven of her team-high 15 kills during a first-set victory, while Olivia Davis had four of her nine assists. She also added six kills.
“It’s been a work in progress but we’re getting there,” Sims said. “I’m so excited to see how we do in district this year.”