Johnsonburg volleyball rallies over Lady Elkers for 3-2 victory

JOHNSONBURG – Johnsonburg volleyball rallied by winning the final two sets in a 3-2 (25-17, 20-25, 22-25, 25-18, 15-9) victory over Ridgway Thursday night at Johnsonburg Area High School. Facing a 2-1 deficit, the Ramettes took control of the fourth set with a 6-1 run. Leading 8-7, Sam Bevacqua had a kill and Ridgway had a hitting error. A Brittany Watts kill made it 12-8 as part of the run. Ridgway hit the ball into the net which pushed the lead to 14-8. At 15-10, a kill from Ridgway senior Katie Oknefski and a service point from Amanda Shilk cut the Johnsonburg margin to three at 15-12. At 19-14, Ridgway’s Gabbi Wolff would tally an ace as part of three service points to get within two and force a Johnsonburg timeout. The timeout seemed to stabilize the Ramettes as Johnsonburg scored six of the last seven points. Autumn Yonker had a pair of aces during this run. At 22-18, Chelsea Benson added a block and a kill before Watts punctuated the set with a kill of her own. “I thought in the fourth game we served better,” Johnsonburg coach Bill Shuey said. “In the third game, I think we missed seven serves. In the fourth game, I think we only missed two. Those are points that you don’t give up. Secondly, I don’t think we made as many errors. We seemed to be moving a lot better in the fourth game and the fifth game as a team on the floor. At 3-all in the fifth set, Yonker added another ace before back-to-back kills from Benson pushed the margin to 6-3. Bevacqua added a kill and a Yonker ace had the lead at 8-3. After Johnsonburg had a dig go out of bounds, Benson served two more aces for a 10-4 lead. “Chelsea has that serve that’s just above the net as does Brittany,” Shuey said. “It’s a hard serve to return, to pass.” A Watts kill had the lead to seven at 11-4. Ridgway would get a service error from Johnsonburg and an ace from Ellie Woodford before back-to-back kills from Watts. Ridgway would score three straight points but the Ramettes would finish the match with a 15-9 fifth set victory. “To come out in that fifth game, I think it’s a confidence builder for the kids,” Shuey said. “It could have went either way, I think. Both of our squads are young and will improve as the year goes on. Offensively, I think both teams struggled a little bit. We make our share of mistakes, let’s put it that way. Someone had to win, we’re lucky it was us.” Shuey said he emphasized winning the deciding set after the match to the team. “That was the one thing I said to the girls at the end of the game,” Shuey said. “It’s always a big boost when you can go into that fifth game and come out on top because it’s a short game. This game is a game of momentum, before you turn around, you can be losing by 10 points.” Ridgway and Johnsonburg opened the match tied at 9-all before Johnsonburg would score four of the next five, highlighted by two Watts kills. Ridgway would get within one at 17-16 but the Ramettes would close out the set with eight of the last nine points, Watts serving the last four points. Johnsonburg took the first-set momentum into the second set, scoring eight of the first 10 points. A Benson ace had the Ramette lead at 11-4. It would be the last Johnsonburg point for some time as Ridgway scored the next 11 points, 10 off the serve of Oknefski to take a 15-11 lead. Johnsonburg couldn’t get within three points for the rest of the set. At 19-16, Ridgway would score six of the last 10 points. At 22-19, Maria Buhler added a tip kill and Mandie Leithner would notch a kill of her own. At 24-20, Ridgway would win the set on a Johnsonburg service error. At 6-all in the third set, Ridgway would score five straight behind the serving of Ridgway libero Jenna Hoffman. An Oknefski kill punctuated the run. In the latter stages of the set, the teams would exchange ties at 16-all, 17-all, 18-all, 20-all and 21-all before the Lady Elkers scored four of the last five points to take the set. An ace from Shilk had the lead at 23-21 and a Leithner kill ended the set at 25-22 which pushed the Lady Elkers up 2-1 in the match. Both Ridgway and Johnsonburg will compete in the Elk County Volleyball Tournament Saturday at Elk County Catholic High School. Johnsonburg’s next match is next Thursday at Bradford. Ridgway’s next match is next Tuesday as the Lady Elkers will host Bradford. In JV action, Ridgway won 2-0 (25-11, 25-20).