The spine-tingling 25-20, 25-19, 22-25, 16-25, 13-15 Lee victory cost Southern Oregon( 23-5) its second straight loss in pool play competition in the NAIA National Volleyball Tournament.
The Lady Flames (37-0) will close out pool play on Thursday against Embry-Riddle (Fla.) and advance into the single-elimination championship phase of the event.
Heroes came from all angles in the thriller. Lee appeared to be in deep trouble, especially after the Oregon club pinned a stunning 25-19 loss on the Lady Flames in the second set. But like the mark of a true champion, the Lady Flames suddenly took on a role from a famous Rocky movie and coach Andrea Hudson’s ladies showed they were not about to be denied.
Val Caboclo, who usually plays a support role in most Lee victories, came up with a match-ending kill to earn her share of the spotlight. She finished the evening with 12 kills and eight huge blocks. Kayla Carlisle displayed her senior leadership in the final set – dialing up three big-time kills and a pair of very timely blocks. She finished with 13 kills, four blocks and a .378 attack percentage.
All-American Arlene Ferreira continued to keep the crowd buzzing about her overall play. Her usual double-double consisted of a game-high 24 slams and 23 digs. At the net, Ferreira put four blocks back in the faces of the losers.
On this evening several other Lady Flames played a starring role. Gretchen Higdon was outstanding with three crucial aces, 10 digs and 28 assists. Sarah Smith had likely her best effort of the season with 21 digs. Kelsey Leffew set up her teammates with 23 assists, and Rachel Cunningham contributed seven kills to go along with four badly needed blocks.
Christa Hutchison was a factor down the stretch with five blocks and captain Stephanie Todd came off the bench to provide her club with some inspiration. Todd played mainly in the backcourt and is still recovering from an injured ankle.
Southern Oregon kept the Lee fans on edge, thanks to some sparkling net play by Sarah Holgen (17 kills, 12 digs, six blocks) and Megan Bartling (16 kills, six blocks). Lindsey Stone dished off 49 assists, while Leanne Stennett and Becky Johnstone picked up 18 digs apiece.