The girls knew what was on the line when they traveled to Inter-City Baptist for the final volleyball contest of the conference season. Win, and the Lady Lancers would be the undefeated conference champions. Lose, and they would be co-champions with the Chargers of Inter-City Baptist.
Likewise, the Chargers knew what was on the line. They had to beat the Lancers to grab a share of the title, and the Chargers came out like they intended to win. In the first set, they raced out to a 14-5 lead before the Lancers found a bit of a rhythm, but the hole was too deep, and ICB took the first set, 25-19.
The second set started much better for the Lancers as they jumped out to a 7-2 lead on a four-point service run by junior co-captain, Beana Lucido. But the lead was short-lived as the Chargers posted a 25-17 win to take a commanding two-set lead.
After the second set, OCS coach Dan Willson asked his team, “What are you made of?” These Lady Lancers may have some sugar and spice, but they also showed that they are made up with plenty of grit and determination! The answer to the rhetorical question was a resounding 25-10 victory in the third set to narrow the deficit to two sets to one, and a declaration of, “Game on!” for the rest of the evening.
In the fourth set, the Lancers took their first lead at 5-4 and never relinquished it. The Chargers kept it close, but almost every attack was answered by a dig by Lucido, Grace Shelata, or Hailee Ide. Also in the fourth set, OC setter, Katie Hopkins combined with outside hitter, Kaylee Page for five kills without an error to win, 25-22, forcing a deciding fifth set.
The gym was raucous for the fifth and deciding set! The Lancer fans traveled well, but the gym was dominated by the boisterous Inter-City student section. The Lancers used that energy as fuel for their fire. Since the first to 15 wins in the fifth set, a quick start is critical. ICB won the coin toss and elected to serve. That first serve was into the net! Hailee Ide and Grace Shelata capitalized on the error and staked OCS to a 6-1 lead. The resilient Chargers came back to keep it close. With Hailee Ide serving, she appeared to get an ace that would have made the score 14-11, but the officials called for a replay on a ball that was shanked off of the basketball goal. ICB won the point on the replay to come within one point at 13-12. Undaunted, the Lancers finished strong and earned the win, 15-13, with Grace Shelata successfully serving for the last point after being iced by a timeout. It was a clutch performance by the entire team.
Coach Willson stated after the game, “I am so proud of this team. Tonight they came back from the edge of defeat against a good team and won. And this season we were supposed to be rebuilding with three returning players and seven freshmen, but they have worked so hard and played so well. I am proud of them!”
With the five-set victory by OCS, the Lancers finished the MIAC Red conference season with a perfect 8-0 record, accomplishing one of the team’s preseason goals: to hang a conference championship banner in the home gym! After a 1-6-1 start to the season, the Lancers have improved their overall record to 12-10-2. In the coming weeks, the Lancers have two road contests against Faith Home School, and Franklin Road, followed by a tournament at Almont, in preparation for the State Districts. Game on!