Just last week the Wildcats were in cruise control, up two games on Brookside in a Patriot Athletic Conference game, before dropping the next three games and the match.
In its sectional opener, Keystone jumped out to a two-game lead over Bay, only to see the Rockets climb back into the match with a Game 3 win.
Senior Sarah Hasel, however, took control and ensured her Wildcats advanced to face Holy Name in the sectional final Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Hasel slammed home five straight kills to turn the tide in Keystone’s 25-21, 25-20, 23-25, 25-21 victory.
“After the third game, I think we all thought about (the Brookside match),” Hasel said. “We were able to get it out of our minds and play like we did the first two games. We were able to use our strengths to take advantage of their weaknesses.”
Hasel led the Wildcats with 12 kills while fellow senior outside hitter Nikki Tuttle added 10. Sophomore Brooke Trego was 23-for-24 serving for 15 points and five aces, and added 31 assists. Junior Jenna Quillen led Keystone with 11 blocks.
“This whole district is tough,” Keystone coach Bud Trego said. “In this entire tournament there’s just one team with a losing record, so there’s some really good volleyball going on here.”
Trego was pleased with how his team responded to dropping the third game.
“We had some problems early on in the season about staying focused,” he said. “The other team would get a little energy going, then all of a sudden we’re in trouble.”
When junior Darcy Irish took over the serve in the fourth game, it was tied 9-all. She reeled off nine straight points — five coming from Hasel spikes — to help Keystone pull away. The Rockets made a late run to pull within two (22-20), but made three consecutive unforced errors to end the game and match.
“We were really excited for Darcy,” Hasel said. “The way she served was great. The team really played well after that third game.”
Freshman Sara Skeens dominated the net as the state-ranked Triway Titans were able to sweep Vermilion for a 25-22, 25-18, 25-21 victory.
Skeens had a match-high 17 kills while also pacing Triway with eight digs as her team was able to dispatch the No. 12-seeded Sailors.
“We were the 12th seed and nobody gave us a chance,” Vermilion coach Bob Eis said. “They looked at our six wins and thought this was going to be a blowout. But my kids fought and this wasn’t a blowout, we made Triway work for everything.”
Eis had no answer for Skeens.
“She’s a freshman, that’s sickening,” he said with a laugh. “What a great player. She does everything well and has an experienced team around her. I have a lot of respect for them. We need a little more confidence and continuity as a team. We’re working on it.”
Senior Andrea Dillon led Vermilion with 11 kills and six blocks.
Firelands looked poised to force a deciding Game 5 before Norton got on a hot serving streak and used a 16-8 run to close out the Falcons in a 25-16, 18-25, 25-10, 27-25 win.
“We didn’t quit,” Falcons coach Diane Price said. “We started off a little slow and didn’t get things together in Game 1, got it together in Game 2, lost it in Game 3 and fought to the end in Game 4. Norton played well. They kept the ball in play and did what they needed to do.”
Maison Montellone had 16 digs while senior Dannin Butchko added 12. Mastellone added seven kills as Firelands finished the season at 13-10.
“Learning how to win is something I have been working on over the last couple of years,” Price said. “The ‘finish factor’ is something we’ve been working on all year long. It’s something we’re trying to build on.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or email@example.com.