The treats at the ice cream social held for the Southwestern volleyball team after Tuesday night’s match tasted a little colder, and a little sweeter, after an exciting come-from-behind 3-2 win over Division I Indian Hills.
Early on, the Warriors took some of the starch out of the “Blackout Night” crowd in the steamy SWCC gym by taking a pair of close sets, 25-23, 25-21.
But, third-year coach Melissa Blessington knew her team was capable of finishing off games like that. It was a matter of unlocking that mental gate.
“The first game, we came back after being down by six,” Blessington said. “Then we were up (13-9) in the second. I knew we could beat that team, it’s just that I don’t know if they could beat that team.”
The first two sets had come down to an inability to finish with the deciding points. Between games, Blessington had a message for her team.
“I just told them, let’s go down being aggressive,” she said. “That second game, we should have won, but we got tentative and didn’t want to be the one making a mistake.”
Leading 17-16 in game three, SWCC got an ace serve by sophomore libero Molly Schimp, then successive points on a kill and deftly-placed tip by sophomore middle hitter Alex Duffy. Freshman Shelby Sullivan finished off SWCC’s first win of the night with a kill to make it 25-21.
Both teams served multiple times for game point in the marathon fourth set. Indian Hills could end the night, and the Spartans were fighting to stay alive and force a fifth set to 15.
Freshman setter Cassidy Yong dumped to an opening to give SWCC a 29-28 edge, and Schimp served the winning point (30-28) as Indian Hills was called for a net violation.
A sign of the momentum shift occurred midway through the final set. Camila Arajjo, a 5-11 hitter out of Brazil, had been effective at the net all night for the Warriors. With SWCC clinging to a 6-5 lead, Sullivan and sophomore Mel Mangrum successfully blocked the talented Warrior freshman.
Sullivan and Allyson Kocour hit through the Indian Hills defense to make it 11-6, and then Yong set a kill to the middle by Mangrum for a commanding 12-6 lead.
Yong found an opening during a service string by Sullivan to finish the 15-6 victory and ignite the Spartan celebration.
“In that fifth game, their setter was serving really well, so I brought Cassidy back to serve receive, and told Shelby to take that (set) ball,” Blessington said. “Cassidy is great at serve receive, and Shelby has good hands. That was a key. They didn’t score after that.”
SWCC hadn’t played Indian Hills in five years. Blessington said it was valuable preparation for the toughest league matches, such as tonight’s action hosted by DMACC in Boone.
“It was a good overall win for our team and good momentum going into DMACC tomorrow,” Blessington said. “I know what this team is capable of, so I’m glad to see them go out and do it. I love the fight that our girls showed tonight.”
SWCC 3, Indian Hills 2
Attacks (kills) — Shelby Sullivan 13, Jenna Casey 12, Allyson Kocour 10, Alex Duffy 9.
Blocks — Duffy 6, Shamell Mangrum 4, Kocour 3.
Serving (aces) — Cassidy Yong 29-31 (5), Ashley Strong 22-24 (3).
Setting (assists) — C. Yong 48.
Digs — C. Yong 14, Serena Yong 12, Strong 11, Molly Schimp 10.