It came on a crucial play at a crucial time featuring two of Skyline’s best volleyball players. And while it may or may not have been the key play in the five sets played Thursday night between the visiting Eagles and city rival Huron, it certainly was exciting and helped lead Skyline to get the match to a fifth and final set.
Clinging to a 23-21 lead, and we mean clinging because the River Rats were quickly closing in on their friends from across town, Skyline junior Madeline Sackman made a diving save on a ball that initially looked like it would draw Huron to within a point. But Sackman made an incredible play to keep the ball in play before Kendal Murray would deliver a spike to push the Eagles’ lead to 24-21 in game four.
Check out CTN Ann Arbor’s broadcast of the game
Skyline, which trailed 2-0 after dropping the first two sets by identical 25-20 scores, would take the fourth game 25-21. The Eagles would go on to win game five 15-13 to win an exciting 3-2 match with Huron in a very well-played and hard fought SEC Red showdown.
“We started out a little slow and we weren’t playing as a team but throughout the game we started playing better,” said Murray, the talented sophomore who came up with her share of big plays on the night. “It was a good win and we worked really hard for it. We spent a lot of time this week working on finishing and playing our game and that’s what we started to do in the third set.”
Skyline Coach Chris Cristian was pleased with the way his team responded after falling behind 2-0. Facing adversity and overcoming it is a sign that this team is heading in the right direction.
“This was the best we’ve played so far,” Cristian said. “We’ve been working hard and our goal is to play better every time we come out. We do that for the most part but sometimes we get in our own way which happened early tonight. But we corrected that and we’re pleased with the win.”
Beating a team as good as Huron is a nice volley to the Eagles’ confidence, especially having to come back to spike this game into the win column.
“It just goes to show that we can compete with the good SEC teams,” he said.
The Eagles improved to 14-8-3 on the season.
After taking the first game 25-20, the River Rats put together another solid effort in game two. And they got contributions from a number of different players.
A spike by Franziska Duhr tied the game at 9-9. A tip by Alex Montgomery tipped the River Rats to a 15-13 lead and another tip by Fatim Diakite made it 17-15.
An ace by Kenna Spieles and a tip by Maura “Molly” Johnson gave the hosts a 19-15 lead. A huge spike by Johnson gave Huron a 22-19 advantage. A block by Duhr led to a point and a 23-19 lead as Huron won 25-20.
The Eagles started strong in game three and a tip by Murray made it 3-0 early on. With Ella Eliason serving, the visitors took control. Another tip by Murray pushed the lead to 10-4. A spike by Olivia Cristian gave the Eagles a 12-5 lead. A spike by Claudia Morville made it 15-8 and Katherine Fehrle’s tip gave Skyline a commanding 16-8 lead.
Skyline went on to win game three 25-21.
Johnson, a senior who will play next year at Michigan State, spiked the home team to a 7-4 lead in game four. But a tip by Fehrle tied the match at 10-10. The Eagles built a 14-11 lead and then 20-15 before the River Rats fought their way back.
But a great play at the net by Morville made it 23-21 before Sackman and Murray delivered their one-two punch for the next point.
In the final game, the Eagles led 8-7 and then 13-10. Despite two monster spikes from Johnson, including the second one to tie the game at 13-13, the Eagles scored the final two points of the match to bring the win back to Skyline.