DIETERICH — The players make her nervous sometimes, especially when they fall behind Neoga by six points in the second set, but Stew-Stras battled back to win the regional championship on Thursday and left head coach Ronda Schlechte with a permanent smile.
The Comets watched Taylor Gresens serve Neoga to a 6-0 lead in the second set, after top-seeded Stew-Stras pulled out a 29-27 victory in the opening set – bad timing for Schlechte's squad to go through a lull.
“I was really worried,” Schlechte said. “They give me gray hair sometimes. In this situation, we can't afford to have those (lulls) when you're playing against a team that good.”
Stew-Stras came within two points of the Indians four times after falling behind, but Neoga countered the comeback three times. The Comets saw Neoga extend a 13-11 lead into an 18-13 lead, quickly.
“All season long, we've been playing like that,” Schlechte said. “The girls tell me it's because they're high school girls and give me a heart attack. Thank goodness we were able to do something.”
Stew-Stras scored the next two points, only to see Neoga recover on the next point like the Indians had earlier in the set – only this time, the Comets bounced right back.
The Comets scored five straight points, behind 19-15, including a one-on-one block by Clara Kaufman against Neoga's Courtney Croy to tie the game, 19-19.
Neoga took the lead back, 21-20, for the last time, as Stew-Stras' Kendall Knop turned it on after facing triple blocks all game long.
“I had triple for a while, but kept swinging and didn't give up,” Knop said. “A couple times they didn't close the block, so that gave me a seem and I saw it.”
Schlechte said Knop is the team's “go-to girl” when the Comets need points because her strength is placing her kills where she wants them; however, it was a tip from Knop's fingers that put the Comets one point away from the win.