EATON – At some point during the season a team is going to be faced with a challenge of stepping up its game or folding.
For Eaton’s volleyball team that moment came Tuesday night, Sept. 27, against visiting Oakwood, a team the Eagles swept in three sets just a few week ago.
Facing a two-set deficit and on the verge of a loss, the Eagles rallied for a thrilling 23-25, 16-25, 25-22, 25-18, 15-8 win.
With the win Eaton improved to 10-6 overall and 5-3 in the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division.
“That’s why you play the best three out of five so you have a chance to come back and you have a chance to win the game,” Eaton coach Parker Fields said after the match. “A win is a win. It’s a character-building win.”
There were several momentum swings in the opening set as the Jills jumped out to a 4-0 lead only to see Eaton rattle off the next seven points for a 7-4 lead. The Eagles extended their lead to 10-5 only to see Oakwood score eight of the next nine points to regain the lead at 13-11 lead.
After falling behind 16-13, Eaton appeared to take control of the set, scoring seven straight points for a 20-16 lead — but Oakwood rallied for the win.
In the second set, the Jills grabbed the lead at 5-4 and never looked back in cruising to a 2-0 lead.
In the third set, Eaton took an early four-point lead at 11-7 and led by as many as five points on three separate occasions, the last at 23-18, before the Jills closed to within 23-21 and 24-22. A kill by sophomore Kelsey Waggoner ended the set for Eaton.
In the fourth set neither team led by more than two points, until Eaton pulled ahead 14-11. But the Jills didn’t go away, rallying to tie the set at 14-all. The Eagles, however, scored 10 of the next 13 points for a 24-17 lead and a service error by Oakwood ended the set.
The fifth and deciding set belonged to Eaton as they took an early lead and never looked back. Leading 7-5, Eaton scored five straight points, behind the serving of freshman Julianne Leasure, to take command at 12-5. From there, the teams traded points until junior Ariel Richardson’s kill ended the match.
Senior Emma McKinney paced Eaton with 36 assists, 12 digs and three kills. Richardson collected 10 kills to go along with 14 digs. Sophomore Maley Tinstman had 15 digs and nine aces. Waggoner finished with eight kills and three blocks. Senior Stacia Weathington added 10 kills and a pair of blocks. Sophomore Kayla Conley chipped in with seven kills and three blocks, while sophomore Becca Mowen added six kills and 13 digs. Sophomore Alysa Sorrell had 21 digs and three aces.
Eaton was scheduled to travel to Brookville on Thursday, Sept. 29, and is scheduled to play at Greenville on Saturday. On Monday, Oct. 3, the Eagles will host Talawanda.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH