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.