The North Platte volleyball team kept gaining confidence on Tuesday night against Ogallala until it reached a boiling point in the fifth set, where the Lady Bulldogs overcame the Indians at the Dawg House.After losing the previous eight matches to Ogallala since the Lady Dawgs last won against Coach Steve Morgan's team in 2009, NPHS coach Laura Miller said that it was a really satisfying win.
"This is just awesome," Miller said of the 8-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-20, 15-13 victory. "Looking back, it hasn't happened very often, so we're going to enjoy this."
But judging by the first set, it appeared that Tuesday's match, the third between the two teams this season, was going to be one to forget for Miller and North Platte.
Ogallala (17-8) jumped ahead to an 8-2 lead and dominated from there. Brooke Robertson ran off eight straight in service to get the Lady Indians to set point at 24-7.
But the dominating first set may have given Ogallala a false sense of security too early in the match. The Bulldogs (11-8) stayed even through the first eight points of the second set and then won the next two points to go up 10-8. Then Olivia Nicholson scored seven more points with Allison Kuenle and Jessy Hunt winning the battle at the net to make it a 17-8 lead.
The Indians tried to chip back. Morgan Reed got them back to within 18-13 with her jump serve to get it started for Ogallala. NPHS won just enough plays to keep Ogallala from making a big run but the Lady Indians pulled to 22-21 after a kill by Reed.
But Anna Allberry made a kill to preserve the lead for the Lady Dawgs and then the senior followed with an ace that went off the hands of Ciara Voycheske before going out of play for setpoint. Then Kuenle made a kill on the left side to win the second set.
"I am just really proud of the way the girls finished (the sets they were ahead at the end)," said Miller. "We worked really hard on that and we did a good job of that this weekend at the Columbus Tournament."
Ogallala responded in the third set by taking a lead of 10-4 after Jessica Paloucek served for three straight points. Kuenle was able to get North Platte back into it with a run of her own that brought the Dawgs to within 16-13. But the Indians made another push to lead 20-14 after Sidney Mell made a kill.
But the Lady Bulldogs won three straight, then both teams traded points until Kuenle made a kill to make it 21-20. On the following play, Allberry got another ace to tie the score. Ogallala regained the lead on a kill by Paloucek but lost it on the next play with a hitting error.
Nicholson's serve then went into the net and the Lady Indians led again at 23-22. Kuenle put another one down for another tie. But Reed made a kill in the middle to give Ogallala setpoint. Reed then followed up with another kill from the same spot and the Indians took the third.
But despite the third set loss, NPHS proved that they weren't going to go away like they had when they played Ogallala before.
"We were really playing with them," Miller said. "We were down again but we fought back. If one ball goes our way, we might have won that one too. Keeping it close there gave us momentum for the next two sets."
The Lady Dawgs got out to a 10-5 lead in the fourth after Nicholson served for an ace. The Lady Indians came back to tie at 13 after Kylie Wroot hit the ball out of bounds. But North Platte responded by winning the next three plays to get the lead back for good.
Ogallala got within 20-19 after Kuenle made hitting errors on two straight plays. But Hunt and Kuenle made kills to bring the lead back to three. Kendall Schroer got one down for the Indians before the Bulldogs swept the next three points to force the deciding fifth set.
"We just got off to a great start in both the second and the fourth sets," said Miller. "We just took care of business. It's easier to play volleyball when you start out well and you have some momentum, especially against Ogallala."
The two teams traded points to start the fifth before the Indians went up 4-2 after Wroot hit the ball out. Both teams then traded points again until Ogallala won two straight for an 8-4 lead.
Kuenle made a kill to end the run before hitting the ball out. But the freshman's third straight hit was good giving the serve to Allison Sawyer for the next two to bring North Platte to within 9-8.
The Lady Indians looked to be in position to take it all after Kuenle and Wroot made hitting errors the next two plays. But the senior duo of Wroot and Allberry responded with back-to-back kills to get the Lady Bulldogs within one again.
Then Voycheske's freeball went out on the next play and the match was tied at 11 all. Allberry then gave NPHS the lead with a kill on the left side.
Schroer responded with a block to tie at 12 and then Ogallala took the lead when Hunt hit the ball out. But it was the last lead the Indians had. Allberry made a kill to tie it again and then Nicholson made a block to give the Lady Dawgs matchpoint.
Then Allberry got the set from Sawyer on the left side and her spike went off the Indian block and then out of play toward the student section for the win.
The North Platte student section, which made the Dawg House as loud as it has been since the new school building opened nine years ago, ran onto the court and formed a tunnel for the Lady Bulldogs to run through on their way to the locker room.
"We got off to a slow start again and we let them dominate us and take control," Miller said. "But that made them more more driven and motivated to play better. We played great defense. We kept the ball alive on every play."
After being swept by Ogallala in the last two matches, Miller and her team look to be gaining more momentum throughout the season.
"We just talked about believing in each other and believing in ourselves and it worked out for us tonight," said Miller.