NORWALK — The one that got away.
Fishermen will exaggerate when talking about it on a good day, and usually lie about it on a bad one.
But for Amherst, the one that got away was no tall tale. For the Comets it was Game 4, a game in which they were ahead 20-14 before watching Magnificat come back and win.
“The key to the match was letting that one get away,” Amherst coach Laurie Cogan said. “I knew if we let that happen we’d be in a lot of trouble.”
The Comets saw their spectacular season end as Magnificat beat them for the Division I regional championship, 18-25, 25-14, 25-23, 17-25, 15-8.
Amherst finished with a 24-3 record. Magnificat (23-4) advances to the state tournament semifinal for the first time since 1999. The Blue Streaks meet the winner of the Vandalia regional on Friday.
“A lot of Magnificat’s points were on our unforced errors,” Cogan said. “We fought and fought until the 23rd point, and then we laid an egg.”
“If we wouldn’t have made so many of the mistakes we made in Game 3, we win the match,” Comets co-captain Courtney Jarvis said. “But you win some and you lose some.”
Amherst was still ahead 23-20 before Magnificat scored the final five points. A hitting error, appropriately enough, gave the Streaks their deciding point.
The Comets came back to win Game 4, but found few bullets left in the ammunition belt for the final game. Magnificat broke a 6-6 tie and ran off seven unanswered points against an exhausted Amherst team.
“We had to spend a lot of energy in Game 4,” Cogan said. “I was afraid it would catch up to us in Game 5, and it did.”
Amherst had tremendous difficulty receiving the Blue Streaks’ serves in the decisive game. Middle hitters Michelle Matia and Michelle Chakirelis had three kills apiece for Magnificat in the fifth game.
“We needed the lead, and we never got that lead,” Jarvis said. “We couldn’t come together, and they played awesome defense. All the movement was on our side.”
Jarvis led Amherst with 42-of-44 hitting and 25 kills. She also had 17 digs, second behind Ashley Aponte’s 20.
“I’m proud of our team,” Jarvis said. “We played hard. I’m just so sick of losing to Mags.”
The Blue Streaks beat Amherst in five games in the season-opener for both teams.
Deme Morales was 31-of-35 hitting with 20 kills. Lauren Percival was 73-of-79 setting with 45 assists. Olivia Sliman added 10 digs and Abby Burgdorf had six saves.
Chakirelis had 14 kills and Matia had 13 kills and six block kills. Kristen Kidd had 11 kills for the Streaks.
“To go five (games) with them at this time of the year is great,” Cogan said. “They’re as improved a team as there is in Ohio. They got a little too big for us at the line. Their blocking stepped up a notch.”
Amherst came out roaring in the first game. The Comets, behind 12 unanswered points (Jarvis serving) built a 16-3 lead. The score was 18-4 when Magnificat started making a game of it. Jarvis served seven aces in the opening game and had seven kills.
Matia had four of her six block kills in Game 2 as Magnificat went from a 10-9 deficit to a 20-12 lead.
The Comets trailed in the early going of the third game. Amherst was down 11-6 before dominating the Streaks and building a six-point cushion.
Morales had six kills in the fourth game as Amherst opened a 10-5 lead and built it to 20-11 and 23-14. The Streaks staged a mini-rally at the end, but a hitting error gave Amherst the winning point.
Morales’ kill, one of four for her in Game 5, ended Mags’ seven-point run. Another Morales kill made the score 13-8 before a hit out of bounds and a kill by Kidd completed the match.
“I feel worse for the players,” Cogan said. “I’ve been to a Final Four (1991, her second year as coach). They haven’t. But they’ll remember this season for a long, long time. It was pretty special.”
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or email@example.com.