BLOOMFIELD — The Davis County High School volleyball team could have relaxed late in the third game on Wednesday night in the Class 3A, Region 7 semifinals.
After all, the Mustangs were not going to lose their chance at playing for a trip to the state volleyball tournament in that game. Having won the first two games against South Central Conference rival Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, Davis County could have regrouped trailing 22-16 in the third game and put all their energy into putting away the Rockets in either of the next two games.
Of course, if any team knows what can happen when the window of opportunity isn't slammed shut on an opponent, it would be the Mustangs who five times this year have been involved in matches where the opponent from within a game of being swept to earn a win. Davis County didn't allow it to happen again on Wednesday, erasing a six-point deficit and two game points to clinch a 25-23, 25-10, 26-24 win over EBF in a tense postseason battle of South Central Conference rivals.
"We've been in the position this season where we've wrecked it for another team after being down a couple of sets this season," Davis County head volleyball coach Brooke Mason said. "We didn't want to give them (EBF) that same opportunity. Plus, our serving was way better than it has been in terms of accuracy. Going into the third set, I think we only had one missed serve. We haven't served the ball particularly well all season. That was a difference maker for us."
Cooper Champoux led EBF's last charge of the season, finishing with a team-high nine kills as the Rockets shook off a rocky second game to maintain a slim lead most of the third game. Champoux matched Rocket senior teammate Emalee Davis with her second ace serve of the match, giving EBF a six-point lead and forcing Brooke Mason to use a timeout with Davis County on the verge of being pushed into a fourth game.
"Our mentality, even at that point, was to come back and win that game," Davis County sophomore Sophia Young said. "We came back together as team. That's the best way to come back. Take it one point at a time, don't get too jittery, stay calm and come together after every point."
Kallie Greiner's kill out of the timeout gave Davis County a much-needed sideout. Chloe Fetcho followed with an ace to cut the Rocket lead to 22-18 before a net violation on the next point pulled the Mustangs within three.
Briley Lough, who finished a match-high 11 kills for Davis County, just missed on an attack to give EBF a 23-19 lead. Greiner recorded back-to-back kills after a long serve by Davis, however, as the Mustangs suddenly pulled within 23-22.
Fetcho's bid to save a point for Davis County in hopes of tying the game drifted wide, giving EBF two chances to force the fourth game. Young and Morgan Petefish erased both with consecutive kills to even the score at 24-24 before Lough added a clutch dig and a winning point at the net to suddenly give Davis County match point.
EBF (13-15) fought to extend the match with Shafer twice swinging for kills. Davis County got a piece of one with a block, dug the second at the net and finally set up Young for the clinching kill, sending the Mustangs (18-15) on to next Wednesday's 3A regional final against third-ranked Mount Vernon.
"This felt like a real win. It's a completely different energy," Young said. "We were all one island, as Coach Brooke always says. We came together and got it."