WATERFORD - The Waterford Wildcats and Eastern Eagles were tied atop the Tri-Valley Conference - Hocking Division standings going into Thursday's match-up against each other at the Harry Cooper Annex.
Five sets later, Waterford sits alone at the top of the division as the Lady Wildcats rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win in five sets over the Eagles.
Waterford (10-2 overall, 8-0 TVC-Hocking) dropped the first and third sets 24-26, but won the second, fourth and fifth sets by scores 25-17, 25-11 and 15-8, respectively.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Waterford’s Maddy Sury (25) spikes the ball against Eastern’s Madison Rigsby (7) during TVC-Hocking Division volleyball action at the Harry Cooper Annex Thursday night. The Wildcats rallied to beat the Eagles.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Waterford’s Alyssa Miller, right, bumps the ball as an Eastern player tries to block it during TVC-Hocking Division volleyball action at the Harry Cooper Annex Thursday night. Waterford’s Taylor Hilverding (14) looks on. The Wildcats rallied to beat the Eagles.
Facing defeat going into the fourth set, the Wildcats outscored Eastern 40-19 in the final two sets to pick up their first win over the Eagles since 2010.
"The thing with this team, of course we have a lot of seniors, we have a lot leadership. I think that they really are so mentally tough in situations like this that we're able to get over the hump," said Waterford head coach Jandy Drayer.
For Eastern, ranked No. 17 in the state in Division IV, it was the first conference loss in 39 games. The Eagles defeated Waterford three times each of the past two seasons, including wins in the district final which ended the Wildcats' season in 2011 and 2012.
Waterford d. Eastern 24-26, 25-17, 24-26, 25-11, 15-8
Waterford (10-2, 8-0) stats: Lydia Beardsley 2digs; Dani Drayer 11pts, 1aces, 1asst, 7kills, 17digs; Laura Hill 11pts, 4aces, 4asst, 9kills, 2blocks, 14digs; Taylor Hilverding 10pts, 2aces, 17kills, 9blocks, 8digs; Haley McCutcheon 6pts, 2aces, 11kills, 3blocks, 17digs; Alyssa Miller 4pts, 1ace, 49asst, 3kills, 2blocks, 6digs; Katie Semon 1asst, 7digs; Maddy Sury 15pts, 3aces, 12kills, 5blocks, 5digs
JV: Waterford d. Eastern 25-19, 25-10
JV stats: Waterford (7-2, 6-2) stats: Madison Ohse 3pts, 1kill; Mariah Starkey 3pts, 18asst, 2kills; Jillian McCutcheon 3pts, 6kills; Tess Teters 4pts, 2aces, 3kills; Samantha Armstrong 2pts; Regan Porter 1asst, 11kills, 1block; Beardsley 1asst; Gabbi Tornes 11pts, 3aces, 1asst, 3kills 1block; Ashley Dawson 3pts; Ariel Quesenberry 1pt, 1aces
Next match: Waterford at Federal Hocking at 6 p.m. Monday
Elsewhere Thursday night:
River d. Monroe Central 25-11, 25-20, 13-25, 25-15
River stats: Jensen Caretti 17kills, 13pts, 6blocks; Mikayla Cieszeski 5kills, 2blocks; Brielle Williams 4kills; Amanda Bennett 11pts; Mackenzie Marshall 9pts, 10digs; Monica Curtis 28asst; Abby Caldwell 10digs
Monroe Central (3-7, 1-4) stats: Brittany Hooper 8kills; Kaleigh Marley 7kills; Erin Miller 6kills; Katelyn Dimmerling 9pts, 4aces, 5asst; Carly Baker 8pts, 1ace; Kelsey LaFollette 7pts, 3aces; Kelsey Dick 8asst, 2blocks; Laycie Ball 2blocks; Molly Schumacher 2blocks
Fort Frye d. Shenandoah 25-18, 23-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-8
Fort Frye (9-3, 5-1) stats: Alli Hesson 6digs, 8pts; Bailey Thieman 15digs, 5pts, 3aces; Alyssa Skinner 5digs, 8pts, 3aces; Natalie Smith 6kills, 13blocks, 1dig; Megan Pennock 5kills, 5blocks; Lexi Skinner 28digs, 6pts; Megan Hesson 18kills, 1block, 15digs, 5pts; Taylor Pennock 10kills, 6blocks, 6pts, 3aces; Ally Brooker 1kill; Makayla Liedtke 2blocks
JV: Fort Frye d. Shenandoah 25-7, 25-15
JV stats: Fort Frye (8-2): Jordan Schilling 11asst, 11pts, 2aces; Kayla Dye 2pts; Liedtke 2kills, 5pts, 1ace; Mikaela Dyar 2kills, 3pts; Jordyn Hendershot 6kills, 7asst, 13pts, 5aces; Karisa Lang 1kill, 1asst, 2pts; Kelsey Sampson 4kills, 2blocks; Sarah Wagner 1kill
Claymont d. Marietta 25-17, 25-22, 25-13
Marietta (11-3); Mattie Miller 11pts, 2aces, 4digs; Shannon Haessly 7pts, 3aces, 7digs; Jennifer Heftner 7pts; Lain Weppler 5pts, 4kills, 5digs; Megan Broughton 4pts, 16assists, 4digs, Chrystal McCoy 2pts, 3kills, 2digs, 1block; Abby Harrison 1pt, 2kills, 2digs; Gracie Haas 6kills, 2digs, 3blocks; Holly Hutchison 3kills, 1dig, 1block
JV: Claymont d. Marietta 25-16, 25-23
Next match: Philo at MHS Wednesday
Wood County Christian d. Grace Christian 25-14, 25-18, 25-14
WCCS Scoring: Hannah Lord - 17 (3 aces), Katie Ward - 12 (1 ace), Rinnah Ward - 4, Demichelle Krupinski - 11 (1 ace), Sarah Barnes - 11 (3 aces), Adria Herridge - 4, Heather Lord - 9 (2 aces), Rebecca Morris - 3, Maggie Frock - 1
Assists: Katie Ward - 44, Rinnah Ward - 1, Demichelle Krupinski - 1, Olivia Eckels - 1
Spikes (Kills): Hannah Lord - 3 (2 kills), Rinnah Ward - 5 (3 kills), Demichelle Krupinski - 8 (4 kills), Sarah Barnes - 5 (3 kills), Adria Herridge - 5 (8 kills), Heather Lord - 2 (2 kills), Rebecca Morris - 2 (1 kill)
Blocks: Rinnah Ward - 1, Adria Herridge - 1
Digs: Hannah Lord - 12, Katie Ward - 1, Demichelle Krupinski - 5, Adria Herridge - 9, Heather Lord - 20, Maggie Frock - 1
WCCS JV girls d. Grace 25-19, 25-9.
Next Match - HOME at WCCS against Ohio Valley Christian at 5:00 p.m.
Needless to say, this was a much-needed triumph for Waterford.
"They fought so hard," Drayer said of her bunch. "They did."
The first set of the night was a nail-biter. It started off back and forth until Waterford built a 16-11 lead. Eastern's Jordan Parker recorded a kill to make it 16-12, but Waterford's Taylor Hilverding responded with a kill of her own to make it a 5-point game again.
After back-to-back serves out of bounds by each team made it 18-13, Eastern went on a 5-0 run to tie it up at 18-all.
Later, with the score knotted at 20-20, a Dani Drayer kill and an ace by Haley McCutcheon put the Wildcats up by two, but Eastern again answered with consecutive points to tie it back up.
Laura Hill then traded kills with Parker to make it 23-23 before Alyssa Miller bumped a perfectly-placed ball into no-man's land to give Waterford a 24-23 lead. On the verge of losing the set, Eastern called a timeout, which apparently was just what the doctor ordered, as the Eagles responded by scoring the next three points to win the opening set 26-24.
The second set started out very similar, with both teams clawing back and forth. Tied up at 12-all, the 'Cats went to work.
Drayer and Taylor Hilverding notched back-to-back kills followed by an ace by Maddy Sury to take a 15-12 lead. Eastern scored two in a row to make it a one-point game before Waterford took the next four points to pull ahead at 19-14.
Eastern would get as close as 20-17, but the Wildcats took the final five points, thanks to two kills apiece by McCutcheon and Sury, to win the set and tie things up at 1-all.
Eastern appeared to be pulling away with things in the third set, building a 22-17 advantage and gaining all the momentum.
It then became a 24-20 game in Eastern's favor before Waterford battled back, as three kills in a row by Miller, Drayer and Hill tied it up at 24-24.
All that work went down the drain when a serve into the net and then a block by Eastern's Erin Swatzel gave the Eagles a 26-24 set win. Waterford found itself in a 2-1 hole, with all the momentum on Eastern's side.
In a moment where a lot of teams may have been emotionally and mentally defeated, the experienced Wildcat team bore down, kept its composure and absolutely dominated the final two sets.
They jumped out to a 13-3 lead in the set, and later, kills by Hilverding and Hill made it 21-8. Eastern fought back, as a block by Katie Keller cut the deficit in half at 22-11, but a kill by Hilverding and back-to-back aces by Hill made it 25-11 and sent the match into a fifth and final set.
"I told them 'If you just give me everything you've got this last game, work your hearts out, be as tired as you want, we'll have an easy practice (Friday)," Drayer said, laughing.
That was all the motivation the Wildcats needed.
Down 3-2, a pair of kills by McCutcheon and two aces by Hilverding put Waterford ahead 6-3. After an Eastern timeout, Waterford served it into the net to make it 6-4.
Sury then came up big for the Wildcats, recording kills on each of the team's next three points make the score 10-6. Hilverding got a block before Parker answered with a kill to make it 11-7. Miller then assisted Drayer on a kill before a serve into the net made it 12-8. Then, Hilverding placed the ball where no Eastern player could reach it followed by an ace by Drayer to make it 14-8, before a double-hit by Eastern sealed the deal.
In the biggest match of the season so far, the Wildcats had a number of different players perform well, something their coach was very proud of.
"(Miller) was everywhere," Drayer said. "We had a couple big kills out of Maddy, a couple big kills out of Laura. Dani kind of struggled off and on, then made big plays at the end. That's what makes us solid and well-rounded is that we don't have just one person that stands out."
While the win puts Waterford in first place in the TVC-Hocking for now, Drayer acknowledged that it's still early in the season.
"We still have a long way to go," she said. "Fed(eral) Hock(ing)'s pretty good, Trimble's pretty good, it's so unpredictable."
The Wildcats are back in action Monday at Federal Hocking. The JV match is scheduled for 6 p.m.