TEUTOPOLIS — After nearly three full, hard-fought sets, Teutopolis was on the brink of putting North Clay away, up 24-20.
Things slowly began to fall apart for the Wooden Shoes, as two straight Lucy Niemerg kills went out of bounds and the Shoes were called for four hits on the next two points, suddenly tying the game.
But Teutopolis dug deep in a timeout and perservered, earning the final two points it would need on an Ariel Porter hitting error for North Clay and a Niemerg kill to clinch a 25-16, 23-25, 26-24 win Monday night.
Close games have not been the Shoes’ specialty in 2013, so it was a big win for coach Jessica Schackmann and Teutopolis.
“That’s what I told them in that last huddle, I said “Who’s going to step up and who’s going to finish this game?’” Schackmann said. “And they all did. They all stepped up and performed for us.”
The game was tense throughout in some form or fashion, even the nine-point victory for Teutopolis in the first set.
The lead changed hands five times, the last of which going to Teutopolis. They trailed 14-12 midway through the first set, but a long service run by Ashley Westjohn pushed them to 13 of the final fifteen points and the win.
Things were more stable in the second set until the bitter end. North Clay took a 15-14 advantage and pushed it all the out to 22-19, only to have Julie Wente lead a four-point Teutopolis run to give the Shoes a 23-22 lead.
North Clay held its own, winning the next three points on kills by Rachel Smith and Teehanna Wyatt and a set-ending ace by Molly Rinehart.
“Both those girls (Smith and Kortney Stanfield) are strong hitters, strong servers and I look to them when I need a big serve,” said North Clay coach Sarah Newby.
The Shoes trailed for just one point in the final set, leading much of the way. A Stanfield ace gave North Clay a brief 18-17 advantage, only to set up the Shoes’ run that would bring them to the 24-20 lead and a closer call than they might have liked.
But Schackmann said it was something they’d been preparing for.
“We’ve really been working on stepping and finishing the game,” she said. “Boosts the morale, that’s for sure.
Courtney Crull set up the offense and tallied 11 assists. Rinehart led the Cardinals with six kills and Smith added three. Stanfield had six blocks at the net and two aces, while Smith had three of her own.
“They played like a team, they got every dig,” Newby said. “They were all over the floor, they played with heart. I was so proud of the girls, they kept with it.
“At the right time, we just had a couple errors here or there that could have made the game for us.”
Niemerg topped Teutpoolis with nine kills and eight digs, Wente had five kills and five digs, Katelyn Ruholl had nine assists while Ashley Westjohn added seven, and Michelle Schmidt and Kayla Kroeger led the team with four blocks while taylling five kills each.
North Clay falls to 7-9 with the loss and head to Odin tonight. Teutopolis goes on the road to face Dieterich tonight.
North Clay 16 25 24
Teutopolis 25 23 26
North Clay: Smith (3 aces, 3 kills); Stanfield (2 aces, 6 blocks, 1 kill); Wyatt (1 ace, 1 kill); Rinehart (1 ace, 6 kills); Miglin (1 block); Warren (1 block); Crull (11 assists)
Teutopolis: Niemerg (8 digs, 9 kills, 2 aces); Wente (5 digs, 5 kills, 1 ace); Ludwig (7 digs); Ruholl (4 digs, 9 assists, 2 kills); Westjohn (7 assists, 3 kills, 3 aces); Schmidt (4 blocks, 5 kills, 1 ace); Kroeger (4 blocks, 5 kills)