By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
Winning three consecutive matches in a week, two of them against city rivals, and winning them all in four or more sets seems like a lot of fun.
The Lafayette volleyball team has certainly had some fun this week.
"For me, it's been exhausting," Irish head coach Laura Rehmeier chuckled. "But, it's shown our resiliency and our ability to not quit and to keep fighting."
The Irish (13-12), after dropping the first set to Bishop LeBlond 25-12, lost the second set 25-22, but stormed back to take set three 25-21, set four 25-18 and the fifth 15-11 at Grace Gymnasium inside Bishop LeBlond High School Thursday.
LeBlond got off to a 19-6 start in the first set and it seemed like, at that point, the match would end quickly in the Eagles' favor.
"We got off to a slow, slow start," Rehmeier admitted. "I mean, it just was not a pretty first set, and somewhere in the middle of that second set, we just kind of got it together and everything fell into place."
Even in the second, LeBlond was in control for most of the time, and had set point at 24-16, but the Irish reeled off six straight to lose the second by just three points.
The Eagles again got off to a big start in set three, leading 8-0, but a 10-3 run by the Irish tied the set 11-11, and Lafayette won a mostly back-and-forth third set, 25-21.
In the fourth, the Irish started off hot, leading 11-2 early. Lafayette weathered a 7-0 run by LeBlond in set four, and took the frame 25-18.
The fifth, again, started slow for Lafayette, and the Irish found themselves behind 8-4. But yet again, fortunes changed for the Irish, and after a timeout, they reeled off an 11-3 run to win the fifth 15-11 and beat the Eagles 3-2 on their Senior Night.
"The seniors pulled through," said Lafayette senior outside hitter Audrey Willoughby, who finished with 11 kills and two aces. "We brought some energy to the team. We had some sort of kickstart in us. We wanted to beat them on their Senior Night."
Another Lafayette senior, middle Khiani Jackson, brought her share of energy and then some Thursday, finishing with a match-high 18 kills, three blocks and two aces.
"Our energy started to drop," Jackson said of her team in the early part of the match. "And I feel like when we pick our energy up, we really show how we can play. Like, those first two sets were not our team."
Despite some service errors scattered throughout, Lafayette served very well at key moments, totaling nine ace serves in the match. In fact, it was back-to-back aces by junior Jazlyn King that ended the match in the fifth set.
Defensively, Lafayette had trouble stopping LeBlond's attack early. Junior Paige Perry led the Eagles (17-5-1) with 12 kills. Fellow junior Sadie Ward had eight kills and two aces, while senior Kianna Herrera had nine kills.
"We kind of adjusted our defense," Willoughby said. "They were kind of hitting spots that we weren't at. So, we kind of shifted our defense, because their outside (hitters) are very strong. They hit good spots."
Lafayette started out the week beating Benton 3-2 Monday and Chillicothe 3-1 Tuesday - both on their home floor. The Irish will take part in the Benton tournament Saturday, where they'll face the Cardinals, along with Bedford and Pembroke Hill.
With a couple more weeks left before district play, the Irish hope to make good on this late-season momentum and help their seniors end on a high note.
"We want it," Jackson said. "We just want it. There's nothing else I can really say about it. We just want the wins. We just want to have a good season. For me, it's my senior year. I just want to do good before it's over, you know?"
LeBlond will also take part in the Benton tournament on Saturday before going to Trenton Tuesday.
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.