Times Staff Reporter
CLAY CITY -- Slow starts and strong finishes were the theme of the evening, as the Clay City volleyball team earned a hard earned victory against Turkey Run Tuesday night.
The Eels trailed 10-6 early in game one, but things turned around when Lynsey Higgins sparked a rally by out leaping a Warrior opponent to softly land the ball in Turkey Run territory. Higgins eventually gave the Eels a 12-11 lead with an emphatic kill. Clay City wouldn't relinquish the lead, taking game one 25-14.
While the first two games had moments of excitement, they paled in comparison to game three.
After trailing 6-3, Clay City scored three straghit points to even the game at six. From there, a wild see-saw match unraveled.
In a game that was the very definition of a back-and-forth affair, the Warriors and Eels engaged in an epic affair that saw 16 ties in all and seven game points.
The Eels were staring down elimination at 25-24, when Brielle Drelick, who had struggled with accuracy in the game two loss, atoned with an emphatic kill to tie the game. After the Warriors again forced game point, Kelly McCullough was able to secure another tie with a successful dig.
A relaxed Eels squad was finally able to take the crucial third game at 29-27, when a Turkey Run return went long. Despite the tense effort, Clay City players could be seen smiling throughout the tense game and seemed relaxed even when defeat seemed imminent. McCullough, the Eels' lone senior, said a relaxed atmosphere is something she likes to help instill as a team captain.
"We try not to get rattled," said McCullough, who led the team with 26 assists. "As a captain, I try to always make sure we're calm because we play better that way."
Assistant coach Courtney Dayhuff echoed McCullough's belief that the team benefits from a relaxed atmosphere.
"It's in our personality," Dayhuff said. "We're just a laid back team."
With their opponent seemingly demoralized, the Eels finally put together a complete game, by jumping out to a 7-1 lead in game four. While Turkey Run staged a few brief rallies, the game never seemed in doubt, as Clay City secured a three-games-to-one win by a 25-13 margin.
Higgins and Drelick led Clay City for the night with 12 and 10 kills respectively, while Callie Dayhuff put forth 23 digs.
The win moved Clay City to an impressive 8-3 on the year. Eels coach Cindy Gerber said the main focus was for her team to get scrappier in the coming games, and said she was beginning to see it on the court.
"We're starting to step up our game," Gerber said. "We're finally starting to put it all together, and we're very close to where we need to be.
Clay City returns to the court Thursday, when they host Bloomfield at 6 p.m. The Eels JV also picked up a win Tuesday, winning consecutive games 25-12, 25-18.
At Clay City