Article from the The Republic - Columbus, IN / Bartholomew County Newspaper
Few Columbus East-Columbus North volleyball matches in the rivalry’s history have had as much drama as Thursday night, but in the fifth set, the Olympians made sure there wasn’t any more drama.
East came through in a big way in the fifth set to rally for a 25-12, 26-28, 23-25, 25-23, 15-5 victory in a back-and-forth match on the Bull Dogs’ senior night.
“We got together, and we said that we had to do it as a team, and we had a lot of energy,” said junior Rilee Jessee, who led the Olympians with 16 kills. “The last set we came out, and we said that we had to come out and be ready to fight.”
North (8-14) led 3-1 early in the fifth set when East (8-14) gained a sideout. Senior Keeleigh Kikendall then served nine consecutive points to give the Olympians an 11-3 lead.
A day earlier, Kikendall’s grandfather, a Vietnam veteran, was buried with full military honors. That came a month after another grandfather had died unexpectedly.
“It’s been an emotional week, so I just figured it would be a good way to end the week,” Kikendall said. I was thinking that it would be really special to beat North because this group of girls that we’ve played with have been together since fifth grade, and this is our last year together, so it was a really special moment for us tonight. We played for each other, and we played to win and not to lose.”
The Olympians looked like they might cruise after rolling to the first-set victory. East then led 24-22 and had four set points in all in the second set, but the Bull Dogs fought off each one to even the match at one set apiece.
East led 23-21 in the third set before the Bull Dogs gained a sideout. Emma Tynan then served three straight points, with North taking the set on a kill by Lily Meyercord.
“We’ve been really working on mental toughness and staying calm and playing with confidence, and in those tight (sets), it helped us, and the girls didn’t shy away from taking big swings,” North coach Caitie Greiner said.
The fourth set featured 14 lead changes before the Olympians forced the fifth and deciding set.
Madyson Foster recorded 60 assists, Regann Jessee had three blocks, Reece Whitehead notched 18 digs and Ashlyn Bergman served four aces for East. Allison Mack added 15 kills, 15 digs and three aces; CJ Clausen pounded 11 kills and two blocks, Whitehead had 11 kills, Bergman tallied 17 digs and Kikendall contributed 15 digs.
“Sets 2 and 3 probably could have gone either way,” East coach Stacie Pagnard said. “When it came down to crunch time, we had some uncharacteristic mistakes, and then I think we kind of had a gut check, and we fixed it and we went aggressive and we just started taking care of the ball a little bit better and it put us in a better situation to run our offense.”
Emma Tynan led North with 14 kills, two blocks and two aces. Meyercord recorded 30 assists, and Maddy Sebahar notched 10 digs.
Also for the Bull Dogs, Agustina Fainguersch added nine kills, one block and 10 digs; Sarah Bennett pounded nine kills, Gabby Genth added eight kills, Lauryn James had six kills, Meyercord contributed a block and nine digs and Tynan tallied 10 digs.