ORIENT — The Diagonal Maroonettes came as close as they could get to capturing their first victory in exactly two calendar years.
In a Bluegrass Conference triangular here Tuesday night, both Diagonal and Orient-Macksburg had been swept by Twin Cedars, as the Sabers improved to 8-6 for the season.
In the finale, it was a rematch between the 1-9 Bulldogs, whose only win was over Diagonal on Sept. 5, and the 0-6 Maroonettes. Diagonal’s last win occurred on Oct. 1, 2011, against Seymour. This year’s team starts five freshmen.
It appeared the streak could be over, as Diagonal established a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three match, 25-21. Then Orient-Macksburg, which won 3-1 in the conference meeting last month, pulled even at 1-1 by taking game two, 25-19.
The third set was controlled early by Diagonal, staking a pair of four-point leads at 5-1 and 7-3.
Junior Shannon Eads soon sparked the Bulldogs with a block and ace serve to cut it to 9-7.
O-M pulled even by the time senior Lexie Dunmire went to the service line. She proceeded to reel off four straight points, including an ace, for a 14-10 lead in the game to 15.
“Bringing in Lexie was big for us there,” O-M coach Dan McKinney said. “She’s a senior, never played before, but she can serve underhanded and get it in. That’s the name of the game.”
Dunmire was 7-7 serving with one ace in the final set.
Diagonal wasn’t going down easy, though. Megan Davenport served three straight points for the Maroonettes after a sideout, making it 14-14.
At a crucial time, Diagonal had a hitting error, and couldn’t return the ball to the Bulldog court after Courtney Neal’s serve, allowing the Bulldogs to finish off the 16-14 win.
Diagonal coach Allison Hajek fought back tears as she described her team’s effort to reach their elusive goal.
“This is a tough one,” Hajek said. “I think the girls got nervous. I think they wanted it so bad, it was like oh my gosh, this might happen! They did fight for it though, at the end of that third game. I was proud of them for that.”
McKinney said getting Shyla Waldhauser back from injury was helpful in the Bulldogs’ floor game, and a controlled attack was key.
“We slowed our swings a little bit to keep it in,” McKinney said, “so we had a little bit of offense at times.”
Setting up that offense was Harper Spurrier with four assists. She also served 9-10 with three aces in the crucial second-game victory.
Courtney Neal had four kills for the Bulldogs, and Shannon Eads had three. She also hit two ace serves in the second set.
Freshman Kasydi Klommhaus had four kills for Diagonal and a team-high eight digs. Kaitlyn Klommhaus and Allison Norris each had three. Stormie Buchannan had three ace serves.
Serving (aces) — Harper Spurrier 4, Shannon Eads 3, Courtney Neal 2.
Attacks (kills) — Neal 4, Eads 3.
Setting (assists) — Spurrier 4.
Digs — Eads 6, Neal 3, Shyla Waldhauser 2.
Serving (aces) — Stormie Buchannan 3, Allison Norris 2, Jaci Haidsiak 2.
Attacks (kills) — Kasydi Klommhaus 4, Kaitlyn Klommhaus 3, Allison Norris 3.
Setting (assists) — Jaci Haidsiak 8.
Digs — Kasydi Klommhaus 8, Kaitlyn Klommhaus 4.