Times Staff Reporter
JASONVILLE -- An ever resilient Clay City Volleyball snagged a well-deserved five-set slugfest victory against North Central in first round sectional action at Shakamak Thursday night.
Clay City took command early with a close 25-22 win in game one. They did not keep the momentum for long, however, as the Thunderbirds quickly took control of things, winning game two 25-18, and taking a very close third game 25-23.
Game four looked to create more of the same, as an uncharacteristically sloppy Eels team fell behind 5-0 early. While they did fight back, the Eels season appeared to be on the brink of ending as they trailed 23-20.
But Clay City did not fade. A kill by Asieavae Jeffers tied the game at 23, and a Ladybird miss-hit game the Eels a delayed first lead 24-23. A Kelly McCullough kill later, things were tied up at two.
Clay City coach Cindy Gerber said she was happy her team overcame a poor string of play that had them staring down elimination.
"We always seem to have one series where nothing goes right," Gerber said. "But we knew we had to bounce back and we did what he had to do."
A rejuvenated Eels team took the first four points behind McCullough's serve in the decisive game five. The Clay City bench was so energetic they were actually instructed by the officials to lower their volumous cheers.
Despite the hot start, putting North Central away did not prove to be easy. The Thunderbirds got within one point on three separate occasions, forcing Clay City to take a timeout as they were one point away from sealing a victory.
Protecting a 14-13 lead, Brielle Drelick dug up an aggressive North Central serve just inches from the ground. After North Central failed to counter the Eels' return with another, Clay City had officially advanced to play Saturday.
Coach Gerber wasn't particularly chatty following the game, but did manage to praise her girls for a hard fought victory.
"The girls played with heart," Gerber said. "We knew we were going to have to step in up in sectional play, and we were able to do that.
The Eels return to action Saturday, taking on White River Valley in the second game of the day. Clay City's game will follow the contest between Shakamak and Union, which starts at 11 a.m.