The Tomah Timberwolves were up 2-0 with a 9-5 lead in the third set when they lost the momentum.
It took until the fifth set to get it back.
The Timberwolves recovered in the fifth set to escape with a 25-22, 25-18, 18-25, 16-25, 15-7 victory over La Crosse Logan in a Mississippi Valley Conference match Thursday at Tomah High School.
Tomah won its second straight MVC match and improved to 3-3 in conference play and 11-11 overall.
“I guess that was a good example of overcoming adversity,” said Tomah coach Sarah Walters. “By the fifth game we really decided we had to get back to basics.”
Tomah was on track to end the game early before Logan unloaded with a 6-0 run in the third set to grab an 11-9 lead. The Timberwolves worked back to a 14-14 tie, but Logan launched 10-2 run that proved decisive.
In the fourth set, Tomah started slowly and never recovered. Logan used a 10-3 run to take a 16-7 lead, and it was actually worse for the Timberwolves than it reads. Three of Tomah’s first seven points were courtesy of Logan service faults.
“We started giving free balls and started playing a little different volleyball,” Walters said.
The free balls were particularly deadly because it allowed Logan to set up heavy hitter Marissa Kleman, who can deliver heat from either side of the spiking line.
“You give them a free ball, and they can set (Kleman) up wherever she’s at,” Walters said. “Otherwise, they tend to push a lot deep.”
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Walters said Tomah’s emotion and intensity returned for the fifth set.
“We knew we were lacking momentum, and we knew we were lacking energy, so we just decided no matter what happened, we were going to try to get some momentum back,” Walters said.
Tomah took the lead for good early in the fifth set after an Alyssa Whaley block kill. It triggered a 6-1 run that was capped by a Savannah Murphy spike.
Another Whaley kill pushed Tomah’s lead to 13-7, and back-to-back Logan hitting errors accounted for the final two points.
Logan took an 8-3 lead in the first set before Tomah seized a 14-10 advantage. Logan rallied to take a 21-19 lead before Murphy cut loose. She recorded four consecutive kills − two spikes and two blocks − that pushed Tomah to a 24-22 lead. The 25th point came when Kleman wound up for a hard spike that came within an inch of staying in bounds.
In the second set, Tomah rallied from a 15-13 deficit and scored the set’s last five points. Courtney Leis scored an ace for the 23rd point, Samantha Shamhart pounded a kill for the 24th point and a Logan hitting error was the 25th point.
Lily Redcloud led the Tomah defense with 17 digs, while Dannika Koput added nine.
Murphy led Tomah’s net attack with 12 kills, and Lauren Noth had eight.
Ella Plueger delivered 15 assists, and Leis added 11.
Kleman dominated her side of the court with 25 kills and 20 digs. No other Logan player had more than two kills. Logan’s Lauren Bogen had 19 digs.
Tomah’s next home match is Tuesday, Oct. 1 vs. Sparta. The varsity reserve and junior varsity matches start at 5:30 p.m., followed by the varsity at 7 p.m.
Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at email@example.com.