Skyline Coach Chris Cristian used a tactic he usually reserves for younger players. He asked his team for just one more point when the Eagles were on the brink of being swept by the talented Dexter Dreadnaughts in a semifinal District game at Huron Wednesday night.
“I said just give me one more point,” Cristian said.
They did just that. One more point.
“Then I asked let’s at least get to 20,” Cristian said, his club already down 2-0 in games and trailing by three points late in game three.
They did just that. They got to 20.
“Then I asked for another point,” he said. “Come on. We are at 20. Give me 21.”
They got the point. And then another. And then 25. Game over.
Not only did the game swing, the momentum swung all the way to a thrilling five-game comeback victory for Skyline over Dexter as the Eagles somehow, someway advances to play Huron in Friday’s District final at 6 p.m. at Huron.
The Eagles didn’t just lose the first two sets, they were volleyed right out of the gym. The Dreadnaughts came out with great intensity and drive while the Eagles could only hang on for dear life.
Dexter won the first set 25-8 and then the next one 25-18.
They jumped out to an early lead in the third set and it looked like this would be over before it ever got started. Dexter had a comfortable lead late in the third game when Skyline started to chip away a little bit.
Still, you got the feeling, too little, too late.
Then one point here. A block there. A spike. Another point. And slowly this was a close game. Then the Eagles pulled ahead 24-23 and got the final point to steal the third game and keep the match alive.
Skyline dominated the fourth game with a 25-16 win to force a fifth and deciding match.
That final game was a thriller from start to finish. Intense. Well-played on both sides of the net. It was tied 3-3 then 5-5 before Dexter led 8-6. Then 8-8, 9-9 and 10-10. Neither team giving an inch.
A tip by Karli Deutscher gave Dexter an 11-10 lead.
Skyline sophomore Kendal Murray turned a block into a point and a spike into another and a 12-11 Skyline lead. Then it was 13-11 before another Dexter spike cut it to 13-12.
And then it was over. 15-12 Skyline.
“That one point I wanted from them was them coming together as one and that’s what they did,” Cristian said. “The momentum was going our way after that third game and it’s big in volleyball. They clearly had it in the first two sets. But the way we came back took the entire team. Everyone contributed tonight. Every team has their key players but tonight I didn’t see individuals, I saw everyone playing as one and that’s what it takes to beat a team like Dexter.”