Presentation’s volleyball team went into Tuesday night’s battle with No. 13 North Oldham looking for its first victory of the season after losing its first four matches, all against ranked teams.
But the 24th-ranked Toppers will have to wait a little longer to get into the win column as visiting North Oldham walked away with a 36-34, 16-25, 16-25, 25-22, 15-12 victory. The match featured 26 ties.
“We know that we play one of the toughest schedules in the state compared to teams that have our rankings,” Presentation head coach Abbey Breit said. “That’s something we take pride in. We take pride in that we keep holding our own against the best. We keep telling the girls to keep working hard. At the end of the day, it’s the end of the season that matters, not these games. At the end of the day our goal is to win districts and that’s what we are pushing for.”
North Oldham (5-2) possessed more power and size, which allowed it to fire 43 kills to Presentation’s 33.
“I think that this was the best we have played together as a team,” Presentation junior Savannah Moss said. “After that first game we came out the next few games ready to play and ready to win.”
Sam Kolb led the Toppers with eight kills, while Moss added seven, Claire Thomas six, Shelby Carter five, Lauren Nunnelly four and Lilly Stevens three.
“I’m really proud of the way the girls played tonight,” Breit said. “We performed well under pressure; we had some things go our way, but at the end of the match things didn’t fall our way. But the girls fought all the way through and I’m proud of the progress we have made. This has been our best match as a team so far this season.”
Presentation has had issues with serving this season but delivered 19 aces against the Mustangs. Jaylen Story led the Toppers with six.
“Our serving was much improved,” Breit said. “We have spent a lot of time on that in practice. I’m happy that we are starting to see the hard work we have shown in practice translate over to game situations.”
But the Mustangs served up nine aces, with Mikaela Beyea leading the way with four.
In the first game, the squads fought through 12 ties and 12 lead changes.
The Toppers grabbed a 6-1 advantage while going ahead 21-15. North Oldham took its first lead when Roberts delivered a kill to make it 23-22. From there the teams fought back and forth.
Presentation had six game-point opportunities, including the first three, while the Mustangs had only four. With the score knotted at 32, the Toppers made two consecutive errors to give the Mustangs a crucial game one win.
North Oldham came out firing in game two and scored the first five points. The first three were aces by Beyea.
Presentation recovered and scored the next nine points to take a 9-5 lead. North Oldham cut the lead to 10-8 before the Toppers scored the next 10 of the next 12 points to lead 20-10.
The Mustangs pulled within 21-14, but it was too late as Presentation scored four of the final six points to tie the match at one game apiece.
North Oldham jumped to a 4-2 lead in game three before the Toppers took control and scored 10 of the next 11 points to take a 12-5 lead. The Mustangs cut the deficit to 12-10, but the streaking Toppers went on a 9-3 tear to take a 21-13 lead, then held on to win the game for a 2-1 advantage.
Facing a must-win situation, the Mustangs jumped to a 9-3 lead in the fourth game. Presentation fought back to take a 14-11 lead before North Oldham tied it. The teams fought through four ties before North Oldham won by three points to send the match to a deciding fifth game.
“That final game we were mentally tough, but we allowed a few points that we shouldn’t have,” Moss said.
Both teams had numerous opportunities to win game five. North Oldham went ahead 4-2 before the Toppers scored nine of the next 11 points to take an 11-6 advantage. But the Mustangs fired seven kills during a 9-1 game-ending run to win the game and match.
“Volleyball is a funny game,” Breit said. “Momentum can mean everything. That’s kind of what happened to us tonight. We lost momentum and then we weren’t able to pull back out. I’ve said before that as a young team we’re going to push them a lot so that they become mentally stronger.”
Presentation’s road doesn’t get any easier as it travels to Lexington Wednesday to battle No. 6 Paul Dunbar.