By Drew Karpen
October 5, 2012 7:00 a.m. CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS —
The crowd inside the Devils Den was deafening as the Union City and Cambridge Springs girls volleyball teams walked onto the floor for the deciding fifth set. The home crowd had just witnessed their Lady Blue Devils storm back from a 2-0 deficit to force the ultimate fifth.
“They fought back,” Cambridge Springs head coach Laura Bullock said. “But just couldn’t finish.”
Indeed, Union City delivered the final blow, leaving the Spa’s gym with a see-sawing five-game Region 2 victory on Thursday night. The final scores were 25-13, 26-24, 20-25, 15-25, 15-10
“Cambridge Springs is a tough team,” Union City head coach Sherri Miller said. “This means a lot to us. The past few years we haven’t been winning. This means everything.”
It looked like the Lady Bears would escape with an easy victory at the beginning of the night. Cambridge Springs could not find a rhythm, leading Union City to an easy first set win.
The same couldn’t be said for the second set. It looked like the Blue Devils and the Bears pulled a role reversal, with Cambridge Springs jumping out to a 18-10 lead.
At 20-15, Union City looked like they were ready to concede the match after three hit errors by Julia Davis.
However, with four set points to spare, the Lady Blue Devils slowly watched the set slip away. The first two set points for Union City were saved by Noelle Wienczkowski on a kill in the back corner and an ace past a diving Paige Wolfrom.
The last two set points were also successfully avoided, this time by the Bears’ senior middle hitter Lauren Miller.
Miller came up with the block of the game, sending Jennae Shinsky’s kill attempt straight into the Cambridge Springs side of the court.
Miller would then tie it up 24-24 when she lobbed a simple pass over the net, but could not be handled by the Devils.
Union City would complete its 6-0 run and win the set on a Wienczkowski ace and a battle at the net between Miller and Shinsky that was won by Miller.
“The second set could have been the difference in the match,” Bullock said. “It is tough going down 2-0 and having to win three straight sets.”
It may be tough, but not impossible.
Cambridge Springs proved threatened to do just that, winning the next two sets relatively easily.
Set three saw the Lady Blue Devils in a similar 24-20 situation, but this time they were able to deliver right away. After being blocked the previous set by Miller, Shinsky made sure to deliver this time, firing a fastball past Miller for the win.
The 10-point victory in set four set up the all-or-nothing set five. And there was no question the nerves were at an all-time high for both teams.
“I was nervous going into the fifth set,” Union City’s Lauren Miller said. “We really wanted to win this one.”
Lauren Miller’s teammate, Taylor Miller, also knew the importance of the decisive set.
“Every point counted in that last set,” she said. “We really needed this one.”
Both teams proved they wanted it, fighting neck and neck through the first 13 points.
Cambridge Springs was in good shape after going on a mini 4-0 run to start the game, thanks in part to two big kills by Shinsky.
Down 9-6, coach Miller called for a timeout to refocus her team.
“I asked them, ‘Who wants it more, you or them?’” Miller said. “That’s all I had to do.”
Coach Miller was right on cue as her team retaliated with a 6-0 spurt of their own to take a 12-9 advantage.
Wienczkowski came up with two kills to bring the Lady Bears to set point at 14-10. After such a hard fought match, the final point came down to Cambridge Springs’ Wolfrom illegally touching the net.
“Noelle (Wienczkowski) came through in that fifth set with a lot of kills,” coach Miller said. “But it is a team effort. They kept each other positive.”
For Union City, Lauren Miller led the teams with 12 kills, with Wienczkowski chipping in 11. Leading the Bears in assists was Taylor Miller with 29.
Shinsky and Wolfrom lead the Devils’ offense with 15 and 13 kills respectively. Setting them up throughout the night was Mackenzie Turner with 34 assists.