LISBON - After getting ahead of Lisbon by two sets, East Palestine's volleyball team surrendered the third, extending their match and delaying the Bulldogs' trip home.
When Lisbon threatened to force a fifth set, East Palestine made sure to slam the door.
The Blue Devils couldn't mount a successful comeback but avoided getting swept at the hands of the Bulldogs, who won 25-20, 25-15, 15-25, 25-22, on Tuesday..
"I was proud of 'em tonight," East Palestine coach Denise Pickett said. "We let ourselves down in game three but we came back in game four."
East Palestine (6-4) took the first two games with relative ease. In the third game, however, Lisbon (3-5) jumped out to an 11-5 lead. The Bulldogs promptly responded with eight consecutive points behind the serve of Kerrigan Wischerman to close the deficit and build a 13-11 lead. Wischerman finished with 16 points, leading the Bulldogs.
It was the theme of the night for Lisbon who fell into several lulls that East Palestine took advantage of.
"We are a very streaky team at times," Lisbon coach Cara Nyardy said. "We play really good, then we take breaks. You can't do against scrappy teams like East Palestine."
Pickett attributed the Bulldogs' sudden change in fortunes to a lack of execution and communication that could have cost them severely had they continued.
"The passing in the first two games was pretty good," Pickett said. "It definitely went down in the third game. We watched a lot of balls fall. We had to cut down on what we were doing wrong, limit our mistakes and play with what we had."
"We stopped talking, we stopped covering," East Palestine senior Carley Sansenbaugher said of. "We had to work on that stuff for the fourth game."
East Palestine has been shorthanded in its rotation due to injuries. Sansenbaugher and junior Kellianne Duncan, who does not usually play near the middle of the floor, have been crucial to keeping the Bulldogs' net defense as strong as it was against Lisbon.
"She's (Duncan) usually playing outside for me," Pickett said. "That's where your rotation comes in. But she's holding her own and doing well."
Sansenbaugher was one of East Palestine's primary weapons against a Lisbon squad that lacks height. Using a strong net presence and athleticism, Sansenbaugher tallyed six blocks as well as 14 kills and three points.
"I work on timing in the gym a lot," Sansenbaugher said of her blocks. "It's what I do."
"We don't have that clutch 6-foot girl," Nyardy said. "It makes our defense work harder. She sees the floor well and puts the ball where we're not."
The Bulldogs also received key contributions from Megan Robinson, who finished with 12 kills and 10 points, as well as Megan Brown with 21 assists and 13 points.
While Lisbon managed to rally in the third game, including a run of seven straight points behind senior Alexis Summers' serve, their occasional breather cost them in the fourth game. Tied 20-20, East Palestine rattled off four points to all but secure a victory. Lisbon took one final shot at a comeback, but the Bulldogs held off for the win.
"We're a slow-starting team," Nyardy said. "It took a while to get our momentum. Overall, I think we could have played a little bit better. We didn't advantage of situation when we had to."
Nyardy credits the quick pace of rally scoring and mental gaffes to the sudden streaks of points that Lisbon gives up when they find themselves in the occasional rut.
"You don't have time to make a mistake," Nyardy said. "Everything catches up right on you. We can't mentally regroup ourselves, so we get into a slump and dig oursleves into a hole we can't get out of."
Taylor Siefke led the Blue Devils with 12 kills, six digs, 10 points and two aces. Ana Sanor added 24 assists, 10 digs and an ace. Summers finished with seven aces, 14 digs and 14 points. Hannah Hiscox contributed 10 kills and 10 digs.
East Palestine took the JV game, 25-12, 25-23. Sara Mullen led the Bulldogs with nine points. Lisbon was led Hailey McVay, with six digs and two kills.
Lisbon will visit Mineral Ridge on Thursday. The Blue Devils are currently winless in the Inter Tri-County League (0-5).
The Bulldogs will host Springfield on Thursday.