Up 24-21 in the decisive third set, Brittany Beals unleashed a monster spike to the floor for what looked to be the game-winning point against Mt. Zion.
However, Beals hit the net on the way down, being called for a violation and giving Mt. Zion the point.
Things spiraled out of control from there. Effingham committed errors on three of the next four points, all of which went to Mt. Zion, and the Braves took the set and escaped with a 25-21, 20-25, 26-24 win over Effingham Tuesday.
While the errors late were costly, coach Laurie Bohnhoff said it never should have come down to that with some consistency on the service line.
“We were playing better than them and should’ve been up eight or 10 points at that point, instead we were up four,” she said. “We outplayed them up until that last four points by a lot of points, but we couldn’t serve inbounds and sustain any kind of roll.
“I thought that was the difference, the missed serves in the third games, more than the letdown for the last five points.”
After the Beals violation, Katie Roberts hit a spike into the post, Mt. Zion’s Allie Roberts uncorked an ace, then Effingham’s Chandler Ramey was called for a carry and Beals’ game-tying spike attempt went into the net, over and out to give the Braves the win.
Effingham led for the entire third set up until the 24-24 tie, but couldn’t hold on.
“If you’re trying to serve aggressive, you’ll take your lumps, but it was more that we were trying to serve inbounds and didn’t do it,” Bohnhoff said. “I’d hate to know how many serves we missed in that third game.”
The Flaming Hearts came out firing, opening up a 13-7 first-set lead over Mt. Zion. But the Braves came back, behind a strong offensive effort from Kelsey McAtee and finally took a 19-18 lead.
It would switch hands until a 22-21 lead for Mt. Zion, and the Braves took the final three points on Kiley Lane and McAtee.
The second set went bakc and forth as well, with the lead switching hands eight times over the first 31 points. A Stephanie Robb ace gave Effingham a 16-15 lead that they’d never relinquish. Ramey and Bethany Donaldson were strong down the set, with Donaldson having a tip point and an ace to earn the Hearts their final two points.
Mt. Zion hung around for the entirety of the third set. McAtee’s strong play opened up the offense, allowing Heaven Taylor and Megan Vaughn to make their mark on the game as the third set wore on. Effingham had players in front of their hitters, but didn’t make the impact necessary to keep the Braves off the board.
“We’d get a touch on everything, but it’d go off and out of bounds,” Bohnhoff said. “We touched most of their balls that came over, but it’d go for a kill instead of a block for us.”
Felicia Totten recorded 36 assits on the night while also tying for the team lead in blocks with Robb with two each. Donaldson had 10 kills and Ramey led the team with 16.
Robb had three aces on the team’s five on the night, while Josie Zerrusen led the Hearts with 20 digs. Ramey recorded nine of her own.
The loss drops Effingham to 12-14 and 3-5 in the Apollo Conference with games remaining at Paris and at Salem. The Hearts defeated Paris earlier this season and fell at home to Salem.
They head to Paris Thursday night to try and move closer to .500 in the conference.
Mt. Zion 25 20 26
Effingham 21 25 24
Effingham: Roberts (1 kill); Donaldson (6 digs, 1 assist, 10 kills); Beals (1 dig, 7 kills); Zerrusen (20 digs); Ramey (9 digs, 16 kills, 1 ace, 1 block); Nunamaker (2 digs, 3 assists, 5 kills); Totten (3 digs, 36 assists, 1 kill); Robb (5 kills, 3 aces, 2 blocks); Fred (5 digs, 1 ace)