Marietta High's No. 13-ranked volleyball team gets kind of a gimme when it plays at Portsmouth in a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League match Tuesday night.
When the undefeated Lady Tigers (16-0 overall, 9-0 SEOAL) faced the Lady Trojans at Sutton Gym on Sept. 14, it was close until it started. Then, it was all orange and black which won convincingly, 25-2, 25-9 and 25-12.
MHS has been a Juggernaut on the VB court this fall, dominating just about every school it plays.
Every school, except Warren.
The Lady Tigers have beaten the Lady Warriors twice this season, but both matches were hard-fought battles.
Scratch that. Make that wars.
At Vincent, on Sept. 9, it went the five-game distance with MHS winning 3-2. Then, at Sutton Gym this past Saturday, the Lady Tigers won 3-1 with every game close.
And, if Warren had sealed the deal in Game 2, things might've gotten very interesting.
"That game was a big momentum turn," said MHS volleyball coach Ron Kidder. "It was gut-check time and the girls showed a lot of heart coming back like they did."
After winning Game 1 25-20, Marietta staked itself to an early 7-3 advantage in Game 2. Seeing enough of this, Warren volleyball coach Tammy Fisher signaled timeout to calm her team down.
When play was resumed, the Lady Warriors scratched their way back and tied the score 13-13 on an Emma Ryan service ace. That was cause enough for Kidder to call time.
MHS regained the lead on a nice placement by senior standout Betsy Schramm. But Warren answered that with both a tying and go-ahead point, making it 15-14.
Again, though, Marietta tied it but then fell behind on a Kasey White spike.
Up 16-15, the Lady Warriors managed to keep the Lady Tigers at bay and were able to stretch their advantage to 24-20.
Just one more point, and Warren and Marietta would have been tied one game apiece. But it never happened.
"It's so frustrating," Fisher said. "We weren't covering our hitters very good, and just couldn't finish."
Capitalizing on this, as all good teams will do, Marietta staged a dramatic comeback, scoring six unanswered points for a 26-24 win and a 2-0 advantage in games. Spearheading the rally were server Kaitlyn Cozzens and hitters' Ali Summers and Schramm.
"We had to fight so hard, and covered each other well," Schramm said. "It was a good team effort. We just played relax and our game."
So how pivotal was Game 2?
Warren was able to bounce back and defeat MHS in Game 3, 25-17. Just think, though, if the upset-minded Lady Warriors had won Game 2. They would have had a 2-1 edge on the orange and black.
But of course it didn't work out that way for the royal blue and white.
Recovering from its Game 3 setback and keeping its poise, Marietta never trailed in Game 4 and won 25-23 to claim the match.
The Lady Tigers are No. 13 in Ohio Division II for a reason. They're very, very talented.
The Lady Trojans probably don't stand a chance Tuesday night.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org