For The Brazil Times
LINTON -- The Linton-Stockton Lady Miners outdueled a tough, competitive Clay City squad to claim a 25-18, 22-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-13 Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference win at home Tuesday night.
The victory leaves the Lady Miners at 4-2 overall and still atop the SWIAC standings with a 2-0 conference mark.
"Excellent effort," Linton-Stockton coach Jill Fougerousse said. "To go five sets and being tired, maybe we need to condition a little bit more.
"But I think it's going to pay off in the run. These are the kinds of games that make a team better, both teams did a great job."
Linton-Stockton appeared to claim a win in the fourth set, but a call by the down official on Sydney Lehman's would-be match-ending kill attempt for "prolonged contact" allowed just enough for the Lady Eels to come storming back.
When the call was made the score was 24-20 in favor of the Lady Miners -- but the reversal turned momentum back to Clay City.
The Lady Eels scored the next five points to take the set and force a fifth and deciding game.
"Exciting, I thought the game should have been ended in the fourth set, it was clearly a bad call," Fougerousse said. "I was really proud of our girls because they endured in that final game and they fought.
"I told them they were like little engines and that I was really proud of their effort."
Despite the disappointing setback, the effort their coach was so proud of came into focus in the final set.
"I think the match may have turned out differently if we had played like we did in games four and five, in games one and two and three," Clay City (4-2, 1-1) coach LuAnn Anderson said. "It's like we keep coming out to slow start, slow start.
"We've got to bring the same effort we had in game five to all the games we play -- and the girls know that and they're working toward that, they'll get better at it."
After reaching the brink of victory for a second time on the evening, the Lady Miners were once again forced to deal with adversity.
Chloe Kittle and Brielle Drelick combined on back-to-back points to cut the Linton-Stockton lead to 13-11 before a missed CCHS serve from Asie Jeffers pushed the contest to match point.
Kittle drilled one final kill before Lehman has two more chances for final redemption.
Her first went wide of the Clay City defense leaving the tally at 14-13.
But Lehman recovered and on the next point -- almost as if it were poetic justice -- she jammed home the winner and sent the Lady Miners into celebration mode.
It was her 11th kill of the match placing her second on the team for the night behind Courtney Barnes' 18 total kills.
"I've known that Clay City is a great team and Lu Ann is a great coach," Fougerousse said. "They're a lot like us in the defensive and offensive schemes. So I knew it was going to be a fight to the finish, I really did."
Fougerousse also credit the defensive efforts of her back row, including senior Jannae Jackson.
"She's always a fighter and a go-getter," Fougerousse said. "She played a great defensive game."
The Linton-Stockton junior varsity (4-2, 1-1) picked up a 22-25, 25-14, 15-9 win as well.
The Lady Miners return to action Thursday when they host Northview in a 6 p.m. contest.