Jonathan Alder’s Olivia Ishmael (center) leaps into the fray, spiking the ball into Lady Falcons’ territory on Tuesday. JA fell 3-1. (Journal-Tribune photo by Aleksei Pavloff)
The Jonathan Alder Lady Pioneers hosted Graham in Plain City on Tuesday night.
It was a heated match volleyball match that saw the Lady Falcons claim a 3-1 victory.
The action started right away after the Lady Pioneers scored three unanswered points. It was only a matter of time, however, before the Lady Falcons matched the offensive energy JA was putting forth,
The visitors, though, eventually took a 6-5 edge.
However, the Lady Pioneers did not faulter, taking the lead again at 12-7.
That prompted Graham to call a timeout just as the court started to heat up for JA.
After the break, Graham clawed back but could not overcome an energetic Lady Pioneer offense.
JA stretched its lead to 15-12.
Graham was able to cut down the deficit to 18-17.
Sticking with the Lady Pioneers every step of the way, Graham pushed the envelope, taking the lead at 23-22.
As if a spark ignited the JA side of the court, JA’s Lizzie Lombardi tied the match with a spike, which put the contest at 23-23.
Shortly after, a well-placed ball from Olivia Crabtree gave Alder a 24-23 margin.
Graham’s performance forced the first set to go into extended points at 26-25.
Lombardi once again scored a crucial point for the Lady Pioneers as they claimed the first set 27-25.
With a good mood heading into the next set, the Lady Pioneers looked to keep up the offensive prowess.
The Lady Falcons had other plans.
The next set was less to be desired for the defending home team, which fell 25-22.
While opportunities were there, JA seemingly kept putting spikes into Lady Falcon territory.
Shots that went out of play put more beef into Graham’s lead.
That continued in the third set, which once again went in Graham’s favor.
Keeping up with the Lady Falcons in a tight race, JA lost the third set by a score of 25-21.
As such, Graham grabbed the lead in the series, 2-1.
In the fourth set, the Lady Falcons took a quick 9-7 lead.
A misplaced spike by a Lady Falcon cut the lead to 9-8.
JA’s Jaden Phelps sent the ball screaming to a lone Lady Falcon. The ball ricocheted off her arm and into the visiting stands, tying the set at 9-9.
The Lady Pioneers looked to extend the match to a fifth set for a chance to win the fourth game.
Eemotions were high as Graham held a 21-20 lead.
Alder later trailed, 24-24.
Lombardi once again made her presence felt, tying the set at 24-24.
While the effort was valiant, Graham solidified its victory by winning the set, 27-25.
“What I told the girls afterwards was that we played super hard, which we always do,” JA head coach Joe Ross said. “But I am tired of not celebrating after matches.”
The coach said Wednesday should be the team’s best practice of the year as they “get to work and stop making errors.”
Many times throughout Tuesday’s match, JA’s offense set up well for scores, but missed on crucial points.
A few spikes went beyond play on the court.
“We’ve just got to be better at making big swings when it matters,” Ross said.
The Lady Pioneers (8-6 overall, 3-2 in the Central Buckeye Conference) are slated to take on the Shawnee Lady Braves (2-12 overall, 0-5 in CBC) on Thursday, starting at 7 p.m.
“If we control what we can control, we can still give ourselves a chance to win a league title,” Ross said. “That starts with Shawnee on Thursday.”