Lizzie Lombardi of Jonathan Alder, center, sets the ball near the net during Tuesday evening’s match against London. Also pictured for the Lady Pioneers is Olivia Ishmael (19). JA won the match in five sets. (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
No matter the sport, the athletic contests between Jonathan Alder and Madison County rival London are generally fierce battles.
Tuesday evening’s volleyball match between the U.S. 42 counterparts was no exception.
The Lady Pioneers found their backs to the wall after the Red Raiders won the first two sets.
Alder, however, waged fierce combat to claim victory during the final three games to win 3-2.
JA’s triumph gave the Red Raiders (15-3) their first Central Buckeye Conference setback in seven matches.
London still leads the Lady Pioneers by one game in the Kenton Trail Divison.
JA is 5-2 in the circuit and 10-6 overall.
“The first set was an example of what Jonathan Alder volleyball has been like all season,” said coach Joe Ross. “We score points for Jonathan Alder and then score points for the other team.”
The initial set was a tight battle with both teams trading leads during the first few minutes.
There were also stalemates at points 11 and 12 before London went on top.
Alder had trouble keeping the ball in play as the Raiders climbed to a 16-13 edge.
Olivia Ishmael and Olivia Crabtree combined for a block that narrowed JA’s gap to 16-14.
The Lady Pioneers stayed within a handful of points.
Lizzie Lombardi put the ball down to pull Alder to within 20-17.
Jonathan Alder closed the gap to 23-22 on a kill from Ishmael.
London scored on a kill and JA sent the ball into the net.
As such, the Red Raiders took the opening set by a 25-22 margin.
The Lady Pioneers stayed within striking distance for much of the ensuing game.
A tip by Ishmael tied the battle at nine-all.
The contest was later tied at 12-12 when Alder sent a block sailing off the court.
The Red Raiders began to assert themselves on the front line.
Consecutive blocks from Brianna Calloway pushed the visitors out to a 19-13 advantage.
Ellie Heisler came up with a kill for JA that broke London’s run.
A kill from Calloway, however, pushed the Red Raiders out to a 22-14 margin.
Raighen Combs blasted the ball over the net for London.
Alder then committed a pair of hitting mistakes to give London a 25-14 victory.
“London’s blocking on the front line took over the match during the second set,” said Ross.
Down by a 2-0 count, the Lady Pioneers were in danger of being swept.
That, however, wasn’t the plan the Lady Pioneers had in mind.
“We hit the reset button during the third set,” said Ross. “We began to execute our game plan better around their blockers.”
Alder’s pressure at the net altered the Red Raiders’ blocking schemes.
A couple of London miscues pushed the Lady Pioneers out to a 9-3 lead.
Addison Schumacher put down a kill as JA’s spread expanded to 10-4.
London remained within a handful of points over the next few minutes.
The visitors, however, sent several block attempts out-of-bounds.
Those errant shots pushed Jonathan Alder out to a 16-10 margin.
Ishmael came through with a block as JA’s upper handed grew to 17-11.
The Red Raiders went on a quick 6-3 run, thanks to a handful of JA hitting and passing mistakes.
That three-point spread (20-17), however, was the closet the Raiders got.
Ishmael put JA at set point – 24-19 – with a monster kill.
London then hit the ball out of play for Alder’s 25-19 victory.
The Lady Pioneers jumped out to a quick 9-3 lead during the fourth game.
The teams engaged in several strong volleys before the Red Raiders pulled to within 10-7.
JA rotated the floor well and covered several strong London hits over the next several minutes.
Schumacher slammed a kill that led to a 15-8 Alder margin.
Crabtree’s kill pushed JA out to a 17-11 margin.
A rare floor rotation error by London allowed the Pioneers to climb to a 21-14 lead.
The Red Raiders narrowed their deficit to five points (22-17), but couldn’t overtake the home team.
Schumacher’s kill put the Lady Pioneers at game point – 24-18.
London gave Alder its final marker, which tied the match at 2-2, when it hit the ball off the court.
That set up the final set to be played to 15 points (and win by two).
A tip kill by London’s Jamie Welch tied the set at 4-4.
JA regained the upper hand at 5-4 on a Raider hitting miscue.
London later took a 12-11 edge.
Lombardi’s kill tied the game at 12-all.
The stalemate continued for points 13 and 14.
The lead returned to JA at 15-14 on an errant London block.
The Red Raiders then sent a dig out of play to give the Lady Pioneers (who will play at Tecumseh on Thursday) their winning point.
“We passed and served better as the match progressed,” said Ross.
“These girls also play as hard as any team I have ever coached.”