BEAVERCREEK — It may just barely be three weeks into the 2014 girls high school volleyball season, but that doesn’t make the losses sting any less.
On Tuesday night, the host Beavercreek Beavers battled back from a two-set deficit only to lose 16-14 in the deciding fifth set. Lebanon held on for the 25-19, 25-23, 22-25, 17-25, 16-14 win.
The deciding fifth set saw the lead change hands six times, and the game was tied six times as well.
Lebanon senior Morgan Stegemiller came up big in the deciding fifth set, with five kills, including a dink which gave the Warriors a 13-11 lead.
Beavercreek (2-2) tied things up at 14-all, thanks to a pair of consecutive Lebanon miscues, but then a miss-hit ball by a Beavercreek player enabled Lebanon (4-2) to serve for the win.
With Lebanon’s Holly Tropp serving, Beavercreek coach Tim Green could be heard yelling “No! No!” as the ball appeared to be heading out of bounds. But instead, the ball just hit the backcourt line for a match-winning ace.
“It was one of those things. It was a great match. We got down 2-0, then we responded and were able to battle back,” Green said. “I kinda challenged the seniors (Savannah Gregory, Alyssa West, Claire Jefferson, Carlie See, Kelsey Simpson, Rebekah Hayes and Jen Chaltry) and said we needed to have some good leadership, if we were going to come back.
“And we did, and won the next two sets. But the bottom line was that they made a few more plays than we did down the stretch, and we made too many unforced errors, and missed some critical serves in critical situations. In those types of games, you just can’t have that. You can’t give good teams like Lebanon easy points.”
Case in point in that fifth set, Beavercreek was serving with a chance to tie the set at 10-all, but served into the net to give the Warriors an 11-9 lead. Another time, with the chance to even things up at 13 apiece, Beavercreek served deep and trailed 12-14 instead.
“It was a great match. I don’t think we played as well as we could, but a lot of that was because Beavercreek is really really aggressive. They’re a scrappy team. They’re good. This was a big win for us,” Lebanon coach Tim Mersch said.
The Warrior coach said Stegemiller carried the team in the crucial deciding set.
“I don’t think she played as well as she can, but she did carry us in that set,” he said. “As a team, we had 35 kills and only had about 10 errors, so we were hitting the ball pretty well tonight.”
Stegemiller unofficially had 11 kills for the game, a season high. Her previous best was nine in a loss Saturday at Mason.
Beavercreek stats were no readily available, but Green said it was a solid team effort.
“It’s early. We’ve had maybe a week and a half of practice before the season began. I don’t think anybody is going to be as sharp now as they’ll be toward the end of October. We knew it would be a tough match. Going five sets, and then losing 16-14 in the fifth kind of illustrates that,” he said. “I won’t single out any one player for their performance tonight. We win as a team, and tonight we lost as one.”
Beavercreek has yet to win or lose more than one game in a row this season. They won at Oakwood, lost at Lakota West, won at home against Greenville, and just lost at home to Lebanon. They’ll hope to get back on the winning side of things Thursday when they’ll play a 7 p.m. match at Trotwood-Madison.
Lebanon returns to action Thursday when they’ll host Huber Heights Wayne.
(John Bombatch is the Sports Editor of the Greene County Newspapers)