It was as close as they could possibly get without winning, but unfortunately for the Peebles Lady Indians, that’s how Senior Night finished as the visiting Fairfield Lady Lions pulled out a five-set win.
Peebles held a modest lead throughout most of the first set as a kill by Kaitlin Toller gave the red and blue a 9-5 lead. That lead stayed fairly constant at 17-13 after Fairfield hit the ball into the net, but from there the comeback was on. Back-to-back balls hit into the net by senior Kendall Kelley followed by a Fairfield ace and the Lady Lions were back in it.
Fairfield grabbed the lead at 25-24 after hit by Peebles freshman Madison Pierce went long and an ace on the ensuing serve won the first set for the Lady Lions.
Multiple long hits and errors at the net by Fairfield led to a much smoother second set for the Lady Indians. Fairfield tried to get back into the set using both timeouts they were allotted but it wasn’t meant to be as another ball hit into the net gave Peebles a 25-17 win in set two, tying the match.
The third set saw neither team lead by more than a couple points throughout. Peebles lead 10-9 to regain the lead after Toller had multiple successful serves but Fairfield came back and took a 15-14 after an ace that Toller couldn’t return. The scores remained close and Fairfield took their final lead at 22-21 and didn’t look back from there taking the set 25-22 and going up 2-1 in the match.
More nailbiting ensued on both benches as the fourth set was close in the early going as well before Kelley tipped a ball over two Fairfield blockers, forcing the visitors to call a timeout down 16-13. That lead grew to 23-19 after a Fairfield tip landed out and Peebles cruised from there to take set four, 25-19, sending the game into the final and decidingset.
In the final, shortened set, Peebles jumped out to a 6-1 lead after Fairfield junior Hannah Putnam hit a ball long, but things broke down for the Lady Indians from there as the Lady Lions took the lead at 9-8 after Toller and sophomore Josie Myers couldn’t communicate on who was returning a serve, which fell for a Fairfield ace.
Peebles Sophomore Baylee Justice scored an ace to tie the game at 13, but Fairfield pulled away from there and Putnam’s kill gave Fairfield a tight 16-14 win in set number five to take the game.
Peebles Head Coach Katrina Obenshain attributed the close game to the number of long volleys in the match.
“It was a close game because we actually had volleys,” Obenshain said. “Normally we’re beating the team really bad or we’re losing really bad. It was an emotional game, yes, but whatever, we move on now.”
The game, which took place on Columbus Day, was not an ideal day for Obenshain who feels like having a game on a day off from school can mess with her team’s rhythm.
“Part of it was I think because we didn’t have school so they’re out of rotation,” Obenshain said. “I always hate having games on days you don’t have school because you’re out of routine. Yes, you still warm up but it’s weird, it’s different. It just takes a little bit more to get into rhythm whenever you don’t have school.”
The postseason is on the horizon and Obenshain said she just wants to see her team keep improving, which hopefully for her and Peebles, will lead to victories in the single-elimination tournament.
“Just win and keep improving,” Obenshain said. “You have to go off of each game and it’s hard whenever you lose good games. It’s hard to lose the games you play good in which is what we did at the beginning of the season. We played so well but we just played really good teams. But I keep telling them you have to keep playing that well and then you’ll win those games eventually.”
Reach Charles Grove at 937-544-2391 or firstname.lastname@example.org.