DuBOIS — After winning the opening two sets, Brockway had to hold off a furious rally from DuBois Central Catholic as it secured a 25-16, 27-25, 20-25, 12-25, 15-13 victory in both team’s season openers at Varischetti Sports Complex Tuesday.
The match was the first for the Lady Rovers under new head coach Darren Morelli, as the win was the first for the program since 2018, as it went winless last season.
“It’s been two years since we had a ‘W’, with a new coaching staff and a new lineup, that’s all we kept stressing was to get that win and the girls fought hard to get it.”
Brockway opened the match with a strong opening set, as it led from start to finish on the way to the 25-16 win to take a 1-0 set advantage.
Alexis Gorham gave the visitors an early lead with a pair of service points to start the match, helped along by a kill from Mackenzie Webster.
DuBois Central battled back on multiple occasions throughout the set, but after trailing 4-2 early on, it would only cut the deficit down to two on one more occasion at 11-9.
A pair of service points including an ace from Ciara Morelli put the Lady Rovers up 18-12 late in the set, as a kill by Zoe Moore followed by a Gorham service point closed out the set.
The second set was much tighter, as Brockway used a strong run in the middle of the set to take a 17-10 advantage before the Lady Cardinals battled back.
Set two was tied at eight before the away side went on a 7-1 run to begin to take control, as Natane Isabella used a three-point service run behind an ace and a pair of kills by Moore to spark the run, while Natalie Wilson added two service points during the same run.
Kayley Risser helped get DCC back into the set with a three-point service run aided by back-to-back aces to bring the score to 17-14.
After a pair of service points by Webster put the Lady Rovers in front 22-17, a side out brought DCC’s Melia Mitskavitch to the service line.
Mitskavich rattled off three straight service points on an ace and kills by Savannah Morelli and Morgan Tyler.
Tyler would later add a pair of points from the serving line helped by a block from Faith Jacob to give DCC set-point at 24-23.
The Lady Rovers would fight off a pair of set-points on a net violation and a Lauren Schmader kill, which brought Wilson to the service line.
Wilson secured a pair of service points, finishing off the 27-25 set win on an ace that tipped off the net and fell out of reach of any DCC player, helping give her team a commanding 2-0 set advantage.
Midway through the third set, DCC began taking control of the match with its service game, as it trailed 13-10 in the third set before a pair of lengthy service runs gave it an advantage.
First, it was a four-point run from Jacob, as Alyssa Johnston followed with a four-point run of her own to make it a 20-14 Lady Cardinals lead.
A net violation would eventually give DCC set-point, as it secured a 25-20 victory to force a fourth set.
“We lost focus going into that third set and we got flat,” Morelli said. “We’ve worked so hard over the last three weeks and I’ve been telling them to stay confident and to keep working hard.”
In that fourth set, the Lady Cardinals dominated from start to finish, as the set was book ended with a pair of strong service runs.
Savanah Morelli opened the fourth set with four consecutive aces, as she finished with a five-point service run to give DCC a lead it would never relinquish.
The fourth set was finished off by a five-point run by Madison Hoyt, as Savannah Morelli had a pair of kills during the run, while Tyler, who gave Hoyt the service with a kill, added a pair of kills during the run including the set-ending kill to finish off the 25-21 win to bring the match to a winner-take-all fifth set.
“We’ve worked so hard in practice, stressing keeping the ball in on services and our service receiving,” Morelli said. “We kinda got sloppy, got out of rotation a couple times and we got flat.”
The two teams went back-and-forth throughout the fifth set, each grabbing the momentum before a key kill or block would swing the momentum back to the other side.
Eventually the teams would find themselves knotted at 13 late in the set, as a side out gave Brockway match-point and set Webster to the service line.
A lengthy rally would ensue, as Webster would eventually earn the point herself, as her diving dig found its way over the net and between a pair of DCC players for the match-winning point.
Webster finished with a match-high 10 kills to go along with a team-leading 14 service points, which was tied for a match-high.
“We are evenly matched teams and after that fourth set I thought we had the momentum going to the fifth set, but it just went back-and-forth and they (Brockway) got the points when they needed them,” DCC head coach Ted Fitzer said. “I think the girls are improving and we got all the young girls in, so that was good to see.”
DuBois Central Catholic returns to action Thursday as it visits DuBois, while Brockway travels to East Forest Monday.