When Lexington Catholic's volleyball team lost the first two games to district rival Lexington Christian Academy on Tuesday night, the Knights desperately needed somebody to step up and spark an improbable comeback.
Emma Iler was ready, willing and able.
"I was happy to take the role as leader and push us in the right direction," she said.
After losing the first two games 25-19 and 25-11, Lexington Catholic changed its rotation and used Iler as the lone setter. The strategy worked as the Knights stormed back to win the next three games 25-14, 25-17 and 15-10 to take the match.
"We kind of let the senior run with it," Coach Ashley Federle said of Iler. "We hoped the change might cause a spark, and it did."
Lexington Catholic senior Katherine Burns agreed.
"Once we changed the rotation, we all really connected with Emma," she said. "It definitely sparked something in our team."
Abby James, Julia Hatcher, Morgan Justice and Reilly Lowe were among those who took advantage at the net for the Knights.
Lexington Catholic took control of the third game by scoring six consecutive points with Charlotte Boulanger serving to build a 16-8 lead. The Knights maintained the momentum in the fourth game, rolling to leads of 13-7 and 20-12.
In the decisive 15-point fifth game, Lexington Catholic jumped to a 7-0 lead, again with Boulanger serving.
After the Knights finished off their rousing rally, senior libero Olivia Bodart said it was "just a matter of keeping a good attitude and lifting each other up" when they got down.
Federle thought her team showed its character by not caving when it got down 0-2.
"They were never hanging their heads, and were able to stick with it," she said. "They came out in that third game, fought hard and got it done."
Burns said it wasn't easy.
"It's hard to get back up when you're down," she said. "I know it's hard for me to get out of my own head during a game. But once something changes and you feel that it's a good change, you start putting in more effort and things can turn around."
LCA played well the first two games thanks to stellar play by junior outside hitters Jordan Woeste and Meredith Ford, solid serving by Elle Goodknight and steady play by freshman setter Rachel DeMarcus.
But Coach Teresa Ford said the Eagles' unforced errors helped fuel Lexington Catholic's comeback, "and once they got the momentum, the points kept accumulating against us."
LCA was coming off a victory over Lafayette in the Bluegrass Invitational Tournament a few days earlier,
"We were pretty pumped about that," Teresa Ford said. "Catholic had lost to Lafayette in that tournament, so we felt we'd be able to handle Catholic."
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.