RICHMOND - Oak Glen was three points away from defeat when the improbable happened.
Trailing Edison, 2-0 and 22-18 in the third game, the Golden Bears ran off seven-straight points and three-straight game victories to rally to beat the Wildcats, 23-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-13, Thursday night at Edison.
The win was sweet for the Golden Bears as they were able to gain revenge for the Wildcats' victory last Thursday night as part of a tri-match at the Oak Glen Fieldhouse. The loss to Edison is the only one the Golden Bears have suffered this season.
INSTANT CLASSIC — Edison’s Cassady Jarvis collects a kill against Oak?Glen’s Morgan Poling during the Golden Bears’ come-from-behind 23-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-13 victory at Edison Thursday.
-- Mike Mathison
AT THE NET — Oak Glen’s Vanessa Hissam spikes the ball during Thursday’s come-from-behind 23-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-13 victory at Edison.
-- Mike Mathison
"It was a heck of a match," veteran Oak Glen (20-1) head coach Ethel Riser said. "Edison has a good ball team. The match could have gone either way. It would have been a good match no matter who won. Both teams played well."
The loss was Edison's second straight five-game defeat this week. Indian Creek defeated Edison in five games Tuesday night at home.
"Nope," Edison (12-5) head coach Leah Eft said when asked if the Golden Bears did anything differently when they were three points away from being swept by the Wildcats for the second time this season. "I told my girls we had 64 errors against Martins Ferry, and we played even. We had 70 errors against Indian Creek and lost. I told them we can't do that again. We will not get lucky and win again with so many errors.
"I hate to take away our aggressiveness. The girls were playing aggressive, but they were committing errors. I told them we have to play smart and start tipping the ball. I didn't want to do that, but you can't keep losing points because of unforced errors."
Individually for the Golden Bears, Morgan Poling produced nine points, six kills and six blocks. Vanessa Hissam scored four points to go along with seven kills, three blocks and eight digs and Jessica Stivason netted 13 points, five aces, six kills, nine blocks and four digs.
Carissa Williams collected 12 points, three aces, 66 sets and 19 assists; Emmy Delekta delivered 12 points, six aces, nine sets and two assists; Kenzie Rosenlieb tallied 39 sets and eight assists and one dig; Alex Arnott recorded five kills; Madison Juszczak added two aces and six kills; Brianna Evans ended up with one kill; and Taylor Allison finished with three kills.
"It took a team effort," Williams said. "We fought hard to come back. It took the whole team to win."
Individually for the Wildcats, Katelyn Pollock collected 11 blocks, eight digs, 12 kills, two aces and nine points. Cassady Jarvis recorded 12 blocks, two digs, 15 kills, five aces and 12 points; and Caitlin Brenstuhl tallied three aces, 14 points, four kills, five blocks and five digs.
Alexis Gill collected four blocks, five kills, two aces and three points; Kalee Neal ended up with eight points and nine digs; Maddie Williamson added five points and two kills; Kim Wilson contributed four digs; Sarah Ross scored three points and Kayleigh Wetsbrook and Mackenzie Berardinelli each delivered two digs.
"It has been a tough few weeks for these girls," Eft said. "Tuesday, it was opposite. We came out flat and started to get some runs together later. Today, we started out with intensity and lost it somewhere along the way.
"Giving the opposing team an 'out' so much with our unforced errors is killing us. We had 12 missed serves today. It's so hard to keep momentum when you're just giving away points. Give us those points back and we win the game and then some. I'm excited to have some days to practice next week and the week after. We know what we need to work on."
The Golden Bears scored first in the fifth game and had a 6-3 lead, forcing Edison to call timeout.
Edison responded following the time out. The girls from Jefferson County rallied to tie the game at 9 forcing Oak Glen to call a timeout.
The Golden Bears scored the next two points to lead, 11-9, and Eft call timeout at the point to stop the bleeding.
Again, the Edison girls responded, and the hosts battled back to tie the score at 12. The Wildcats once again found themselves three points away from victory, but it was not to be as the Golden Bears scored three of the final four points to win Game 5 and the match.
The Golden Bears scored two points to go up 14-12, but the Wildcats countered with a point to pull within, 14-13. Edison had a chance to extend the game and the match, but Oak Glen was able to score the necessary point to collect the hard-fought victory.
"We knew it was going to be really tough to beat them," Hissam said. "With all of this team's accomplishments, if we put our hearts and minds to it we knew we could do it."
All five games were hotly contested.
Oak Glen led Game 1, 11-8, but Edison rallied to take a 14-13 lead forcing Riser to call timeout. The Wildcats' advantage grew to three points at 16-13, but the Golden Bears rebounded to tie the match at 19 forcing an Edison timeout.
The Wildcats fought back to score five of the next six points to go up 24-20 forcing Oak Glen to call a timeout. The visitors ran off three-straight points to pull within 24-23, but Jarvis and Gill teamed up for a block enabling Edison to win Game 1.
The Golden Bears ran off five straight points to take a 7-3 lead, but the Wildcats rallied to tie the score at 9 in Game 2 and the teams traded points for the most part for the rest of the game. Late in the second game, Edison delivered three straight points to take a 21-19 lead. The Wildcats' advantage grew to 23-20, forcing Riser to call timeout. The Golden Bears got as close as 24-22, but a spike by Jarvis ended the game and gave Edison a 2-0 lead.
The Golden Bears came out strong to start the third game as Stivason served Oak Glen to a 7-0 lead. The Wildcats battled back to make the score 7-5 on the strength of Brenstuhl's serve.
Just as quickly as Edison stole the momentum for Oak Glen, the Golden Bears stole it back from the Wildcats. Oak Glen scored the next five points to take a 12-5 lead. The victors also led 14-7.
Edison was being doubled up, but the Wildcats scratched and clawed their way back into the game. Edison ended up coming all of the way back, and it tied up Game 3 at 15-all forcing an Oak Glen timeout.
The Wildcats kept the momentum after the timeout, and they were able to build a 20-17 lead and later a 22-18 advantage.
Edison found itself three points away from victory and the double sweep, but Oak Glen refused to go away quietly into the warm night.
"We got down, but we worked hard," Hissam said. "We played together. We knew we could do that."
Led by the serving of Delekta, the Golden Bears scored seven straight points to stay alive.
"The difference was serving," Riser said. "That is when Emmy came into the match. She served six straight points. They couldn't get the ball back. She served point after point after point. She had good serves, and we made plays off of it."
Game 4 was not an easy one for Oak Glen either.
The Golden Bears scored first again, but once again the Wildcats came back. Edison was able to maintain a two-point lead for a little while before the Silver-and-Black was able to extend its lead to four points at 14-10 forcing an Oak Glen timeout.
The Golden Bears rallied to tie the score at 14, and Oak Glen kept the momentum for a 19-15 advantage, forcing the Wildcats to call timeout.
Edison responded, and the Wildcats fought back to tie the score at 20. Later, Riser called timeout with the game all even at 22.
The Golden Bears scored the next two points, but Wildcats did not throw in the towel. Edison scored to make it 24-23, but Oak Glen capitalized on its second-game point to win the game and even up the match at 2-2 to force the decisive Game 5.
"You are always concerned after a loss like this, but our seniors have a lot of heart," Eft said. "Not all of them showed that tonight, but I have faith in them."
The Golden Bears have played in a lot of high-pressure matches the last few seasons. Oak Glen is the reigning two-time West Virginia Class AA state champions, and all of that experience paid off for the girls from Hancock County in their match against the Wildcats.
"It does help," Riser said. "We talked about that. Morgan told the girls, 'We are back-to-back state champs. Let's play like it.'
"They did. They started coming back. They got fired up. They started to play harder."
Both teams are scheduled to return to the court Monday on the road. Oak Glen is at Wheeling Park, and Edison at Brooke.