JOHNSONBURG – After squandering a two-set lead, the playoff-bound Johnsonburg Ramettes (14-9-1) earned a five-set win (25-23, 25-18, 20-25, 20-25, 15-9) Tuesday night over visiting Kane.
Taking the home court for the final time in the regular season, Johnsonburg's senior quintet needed five sets for the win after a furious rally from Kane to tie the match at two sets apiece.
After a tip at the net by Kane junior Audrey Perry to give the Lady Wolves a 5-2 lead in the third set, the home team came to life.
Consecutive kills by departing senior Katie Galsick and teammate Brittany Watts cut the deficit to one point before consecutive Kane errors off Chelsea Benson serves put the Ramettes ahead, 6-5.
Two more errant shots put the deficit to three and a Galsick kill gave Johnsonburg a 9-5 advantage and prompted a Kane timeout to interrupt the 7-point run. After a kill from Kane junior Nicole Sicher halted the home team's momentum at 9-6, the teams traded points to 10-7 after back-to-back errors.
Needing five points for the win, the Ramettes got a block from Watts and subsequent point at the net from departing senior Kiesha Dornish to take a 12-7 advantage. Watts would tally another kill for a 13-7 lead before Kane took four hits off a Brianna Fabris serve to put Johnsonburg on the cusp. After Kane senior Cassie Whittemore halted the streak at 14-9, Dornish set down a shot that Kane could not return for the 15-9 win to take the match, 3-2.
"It was a dogfight and it usually is when we play Kane," said Johnsonburg head varsity volleyball coach Bill Shuey. "I thought we had opportunities in the third and the fourth game to prevent it from going all the way to five but we just didn't capitalize on them.
"Kane is a worthy opponent and they always are."
The deficit in the first game was never more than four points in the first set at Johnsonburg took a 25-23 win. Clinging to a 2-point lead, errors caught up to Kane as a serve went long to give the Ramettes a 19-16 advantage. With the extra breathing room, Watts later put down a kill for a 4-point lead to go to 21-17.
Kane would make it difficult, however, as Whittemore put down a kill of her own to cut the lead to 21-19; an errant hit and misplay at the net tied the set at 21-all before the teams traded points to 23-all on a Watts block, a kill from Kane sophomore Morgan Nicholson, a Benson kill, and another point at the net from Nicholson.
At 23-23, Kane flopped with an error at the net to face the deficit again before Galsick, who leads the Ramettes in kills this season, put down a big one to take the first set, 25-23.
Johnsonburg overcame an early deficit in the second set to get in the driver's seat at 18-11 after kills from Watts and Galsick.
After an ace from Sicher cut the lead to 18-13, Galsick and Perry traded kills to 19-14. The teams traded points to 20-17 before the Ramettes scored five of the next six points for the win, culminating with an ace from Dornish.
The Ramettes were unable to close the door in the third and fourth games.
Johnsonburg trailed the entire fourth game but we right behind near the midway point, facing a 14-13 deficit. After a point at the net from Dornish closed the gap to 20-18 Kane, the Ramettes were hit with two consecutive net violations and were unable to regroup.
After an error into the net from Sicher, the Ramettes took four hits and a Galsick mishit dropped the third game, 25-20.
The Ramettes had a better opportunity to cut the match short in the fourth game but again could not cash in.
Consecutive aces from departing Johnsonburg senior Kiana Myers tied the set at 8-8 as the Ramettes began to build momentum and take the lead.
A Benson block and subsequent kill put Johnsonburg up by three and an errant hit off a Dornish serve upped the lead to 16-12. The teams traded points to 18-14 on a Benson block, Whittemore kill, Benson kill, and Nicholson block before Kane senior Angie Geer's serve bounced off the net to give Johnsonburg a 19-14 cushion.
What the Ramettes didn't know was that Kane was about to pull off an improbable 9-0 run to nearly ice the set at 23-19.
After a Sicher kill, the Ramettes put the next two points into the net to cut the lead to 19-17. Two more miscues knotted the score at 19-all and a Perry ace tipped the scales in Kane's favor at 20-19. Sicher followed with an ace and a Perry kill gave Kane a 3-point cushion. Galsick put her next shot into the net to expand Kane's lead to 23-19.
Sicher's serve would find the net to stop the momentum at 23-20 before Perry handled the next two points for a 25-20 Kane win to tie the match at two sets apiece.
"We have a hard time finishing," Shuey said. "We got stagnant, we weren't moving well enough but in the fifth game, there were definite positive signs as we saw the things that we can do, and that we should be doing.
"It was a good learning experience to go all the way to five knowing that we didn't play so well in the third and fourth games, and Kane did play well."
Prior to the start of the game, departing seniors Sarah Bevacqua, Kiesha Dornish, Brianna Fabris, Katie Galsick and Kiana Myers were recognized as the team's five seniors.
"They give everything they have on the court, they're a close-knit group and it's a pleasure to be with them throughout the last four years, to be part of their volleyball careers, and part of their high school career as well," Shuey said. "We will miss them but wish them well and they will always be back to root on future teams."
The Ramettes are scheduled for their regular-season finale Thursday at Elk County Catholic. Junior varsity action is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.