The Scottsbluff volleyball team’s bid for a comeback win over Cheyenne Central fell just short on Thursday night as the Indians held off the Bearcats in a five-set thriller 25-23, 28-26, 22-25, 20-25, 15-8 at Scottsbluff High School.
The loss dropped the Bearcats to 3-7 on the season, but first-year head coach Leslie Foral believes her team is on the right track.
“I really do think they are getting more confidence. Probably at the beginning of the season I can’t say that we would have come back from being down two sets,” she said. “It’s more I think they’re getting comfortable playing together and they’re getting more comfortable doing the things we coaches are asking of them. Now it’s going to come down to them utilizing our game plan and executing to the very end.”
Scottsbluff quickly jumped out to a 5-1 lead on the Indians early in the first set on consecutive kills by Izzy Wright, Emma Herman and Emma Foote and things looked promising for the Bearcats in set one. However, Central clawed back to force a back-and-forth battle throughout the frame. Scottsbluff pulled ahead 23-22 late in the set on a kill from Shelby Bewley, but a pair of kills from Shelby Murrell and an ace serve from Kelsi Warner gave the Indians the 25-23 edge to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
Set 2 was a mirror image of the opening frame with Scottsbluff racing out to an 8-2 advantage. Murrell, though, served up five straight points for the visiting Indians to cut the deficit to 8-7. The turning point for Central came late in the set down 24-20 when Murrell led the comeback on a 7-2 run to stymie the Bearcats, 28-26, and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
After giving up opportunities to win the first two sets, Scottsbluff regrouped in set 3 after a little bit of a shake up in the rotation, which paid off in the end.
The Bearcats controlled the set, trailing 4-3 early on, but not looking back after that. After Central tied the match at 15-15 midway through the set, Scottsbluff mounted a 7-2 run of its own to take a commanding 22-17 lead. The Indians didn’t go away quietly, though. Led by a pair of kills from Reese Bradley, Central cut the lead to 23-22 deep into the frame, but a kill from Herman and an unforced error gave the Bearcats the 25-22 set win to send the match into a fourth set.
Scottsbluff stayed sharp in the fourth with its back against the wall, jumping out to an 11-5 lead early on. The Bearcats controlled the set to the very end and finished off the Indians with an ace block from Herman and a kill from Shelby Bewley to win 25-20 and hang on for the fifth and final set.
Central controlled the fifth set from the first serve jumping out to a 4-1 lead and never looking back. Central was led in the final set by four kills and an ace block from Murrell and three kills from Bradley to capture the 3-2 match win.
Foral said although her team couldn’t finish the comeback win, she was pleased with the effort from her girls to push the match into a fifth set after dropping the first two.
“In the fifth set we kind of went away from our game plan,” she said. “I don’t know if that was just focus or emotionally, mentally or physically tired, but I was super impressed with their resilience to come back from being down two and I think it’s just going to be getting over that hump and finishing games.”
Scottsbluff was led offensively by Foote, who finished the night with 12 kills, an ace serve, 15 set assists and 31 digs. Shelby Bewley added nine kills, three ace serves, three blocks and 17 digs. Herman finished with seven kills and nine blocks, while Izzy Wright added five kills and 24 digs. Josie Amoo finished with three kills, Megan Bewley had 16 set assists and 12 digs, and Jade Walker finished with seven kills and four blocks. Logan Hernandez chipped in two aces serves and 31 digs.
Scottsbluff will next be in action when it travels to Gering on Tuesday.