By Garth Shanklin
The second set of the match between the New Richmond Lady Lions and Seven Hills on Wednesday, Sept. 6 perfectly illustrated what would become a five-set thriller.
Neither team gave an inch as the score steadily grew and grew, before the Lady Lions finally pulled out a 31-29 win to even the match itself at one set apiece. Momentum from that type of win can be fleeting, but after falling behind again two sets to one, New Richmond used their senior leadership and their serving prowess to pull out a five-set home victory.
New Richmond fell behind in the third set 10-4 thanks to a 7-1 run by Seven Hills. The Lady Lions pulled within four at 12-8, but another run by the Stingers nearly put the match away at 19-10.
The Lady Lions went on another run, scoring seven straight points to pull within three at 20-17. Seven Hills pulled away to win the third set 25-20.
In the fourth set, the Lady Lions jumped ahead quickly and did not look back.
The team scored nine straight points to start the match and held an 11-2 lead early. Seven Hills rallied, after trailing 15-5 and 18-11 the Lady Lions saw their lead trimmed to 19-17.
After a Seven Hills timeout, the Lady Lions scored four out of the final five points in the set for a 25-18 win, knotting the match up at two sets each.
The fifth and final set started out well for New Richmond. The Lady Lions held a 10-6 lead, only to see Seven Hills respond to pull within one at 11-10. The Lady Lions called timeout, then scored four points to win the match 3-2.
New Richmond head coach Amy Hauck said she could tell just how much energy the team needed to leave home with the victory.
“The girls brought everything they had to the table,” Hauck said. “I told them they had to pick up their energy, they had to want it because the other team wanted it. They did, and that’s the fight I’ve been looking for all season. They brought it out tonight, they worked hard and they definitely deserved that win.”
Hauck added that she felt the team’s ability to win the extended second set is what gave the team the confidence to win the match.
“That was, I think, the pivotal moment in the game when they realized they could do it,” Hauck said. “We overcame, I think, five game points.”
Jumping out to a lead in the fourth set was crucial, according to Hauck. She said she told the players they had to start better.
“They wanted to win,” “We had dug ourselves a hole every set, and I told them to push for a lead. They pushed for the lead and took the fourth set.”
Serving was a key part of New Richmond’s rally.
“Both Natalie [Holdsworth] and Aubree [Story], seniors and leaders on the team, they’re strong servers,” Hauck said. “They were bringing the energy to the court and got the others fired up.”
New Richmond has a double-header scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 16 with matches against CHCA and Indian Hill beginning at 11 a.m.