Lexington Christian Academy, showing plenty of perseverance and poise, staged a spirited comeback in the opening match of the 43rd District volleyball tournament Monday night.
The host Eagles lost the first two games to Lafayette, 25-19, 25-17, won the next two 25-21, 25-22, then survived 16-14 in the fifth.
"I'm pretty sure I lost 10 pounds and aged 10 years," said a happy but exhausted LCA Coach Teresa Ford after the roller-coaster match.
Ford expected a close encounter with Lafayette. Just a few weeks ago the Generals outlasted LCA 16-14 in a five-game thriller.
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Lafayette took early control Monday night, taking the first two games thanks to strong play by hitters Aisha and Imani Conwell, Emily Trammel, Alyssa Hampton, Meredith Britt and Megan Pauley, and the defense of Keyton Kinley.
LCA junior outside hitter Jordan Woeste admitted that the "odds were against us at that point, but we knew this was our last chance. We knew we had to push through."
Ford heard that determination in the huddle.
"Absolutely. The girls were saying, 'We're not ready to be finished with volleyball.'
"We've got seven seniors who pushed these girls. They didn't want it to be over."
LCA started to turn things around in the third game, with Woeste and Meredith Ford, the coach's daughter, delivering the big hits.
But it was a team effort that stoked the comeback.
Lauren Elder had a few kills. Elle Goodknight and Olivia Hannifan contributed key blocks. Libero Macy Galloway had clutch digs. Gabby Townsend came on strong with her back-line defense. And freshman Rachel DeMarcus was her usual steady self all over the court.
"After we got down 0-2, we communicated a lot better, our passes were a lot better, and so were our hits," Woeste said. "We just worked more as a team."
Ford said the Eagles also adopted a simple strategy.
"We just kept saying, 'One point at a time, just focus on the play at hand.'"
Early in the season LCA blew a 2-0 lead and lost a match to Lexington Catholic. It was a tough defeat, but a lesson was learned.
"The girls realized they had to fight to the end," Ford said. "That's what they did tonight."
LCA needed that resolve to survive Lafayette's late push in the fifth game. LCA led 13-10, but the Generals rallied to tie it 14-14 before the Eagles pulled it out.
Lafayette Coach Chris Langston, who led the Generals to a 20-win season for the 11th year in a row, praised his team's perserverance, too.
"I was proud of the way our girls fought back at the end," he said. "This match just showed again how even these two teams are."