CLAY CITY -- The Clay City Eels got a taste of the pressure that the postseason brings on Monday night when they went five sets with visiting North Daviess before taking a 25-18, 25-19, 14-25, 15-25, 15-12 victory.
The Eels looked like they were on their way to an easy victory after their opening two sets but the Cougars would have none of that in taking advantage of Clay City's struggles in the next two sets.
Clay City would regroup in the tiebreaker set in the end, coming through for the deciding set win.
"Anytime you can dig yourself out of a hole this time of year, you learn some things," commented Clay City coach Lori Knight. "The girls didn't listen tonight, that was our biggest downfall."
That particular downfall nearly cost the Eels the match when the Cougars came roaring back in the third and fourth sets.
Ashley McCullough helped the Eels dominate in the first pair of sets, ringing up six kills and a block in the second set alone to put Clay City on the verge of the match win, but in the third set, North Daviess got their own hitting game going while the Eels had their struggles.
Clay City lead early on by a 4-2 score but then their game went south as the Cougars' Kynsley Byrer served out seven straight points and the McCullough's hitting went awry.
McCullough's tip was blocked down, followed by an ace from Byrer, another block of McCullough and a kill attempt that was wide by McCullough put the Cougars in control of the set at 9-5.
From there, the Cougars put the game away with an 11-5 run lead by middle hitters Glenna Joliff and Megan Dyal.
Dyal had four kills and a block the rest of the game and Joliff added another three kills. Clay City was unable to regain their footing, dropping their first set of the match.
North Daviess gave Clay City more of the same in the next set, the Eels couldn't find their game and the Cougars were playing as well as they could.
The Cougars put together an early 6-1 lead to get out to a 9-3 advantage. Clay City was unable to find their hitting range, hitting into the net, wide and long and North Daviess continued on their way to the win to tie the match at two games apiece.
With the momentum firmly in North Daviess pocket and the Eels feeling the pressure, they responded in the final game to 15 points.
Clay City got off to a good start as Sarah Kennedy drilled an opening kill and Brooklyn Wellman sent down an ace from the service line and the Cougars sent a kill attempt wide to put the Eels up 3-0 quickly. North Daviess rebounded quickly as Joliff blasted down a kill to regain service and Chelsee Gerber's dig off a Cougar kill went wide. The Cougars took the lead 4-3 before McCullough's kill gave the Eels the serve and tied the score.
From there, the game see-sawed back-and-forth with the Eels getting the final advantage off a McCullough kill and regained serve.
Annalie Scudder sent a kill long and the Eels' Angie Camp picked up a kill. Two straight shots by Dyal went long and suddenly the Eels lead up to 11-8. The Cougars scrapped back to 12-10, but McCullough stepped up for a kill that went through a block and tipped game-point over a potential block for the victory.
The win moved the Eels' record to 15-3 overall this season and sets them up for a big match to decide the conference on Thursday versus Union on the road. The Clay City JV team won in two games, 25-11, 25-15.