BIDWELL, Ohio — The Meigs Lady Marauders made more than quite the comeback, while the River Valley Raiders had to believe they let one get away.
In rallying in all three games it won on Tuesday night, the youthful yet visiting Marauders captured an entertaining 25-17, 26-28, 26-24 and 25-20 Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division volleyball victory over the senior-laden Lady Raiders.
In a contest in which it can be argued that either team could have won the opening three games, the Marauders rallied from a 10-2 deficit in the initial set — before battling back from a 9-1 hole in the third.
With a 2-1 advantage entering game four, Meigs got behind again at 9-7, but then scored the next three points to push ahead — prior to building leads of 18-11 and 21-14 en route to the win.
The Marauders are now 6-5 overall, and improved to 3-1 in the TVC Ohio.
The loss left the Lady Raiders at 2-9, as they remain winless in the league at 0-4.
But, truth be told, it was a match in which either club could have easily won.
Meigs coach Le Ann King praised her squad’s ability, to once again, rally.
“I’m just very proud of my girls. In practice, we play these different things about coming from behind. If we’re behind, the goal is to not give up and keep working hard,” she said. “These girls are really learning to persevere and work toward the goal of winning the game.”
In the fourth game, the Marauders played from ahead for the most part — last trailing at 9-8 and after eight ties.
Meigs broke an 11-11 tie on a Raider service error, then six straight service points by Kassidy Betzing —consisting of four Raider errors sandwiched around back-to-back Betzing aces —got the Marauders going for good.
“In that game, I told the girls to just play our game and not their (Raiders) game,” said King. “These girls know they can play. It’s just getting it through their heads that they can play. They are gaining confidence, little by little, which is something they don’t have a lot of. We have some awesome players out there, but they need to know they can hit and not worry about hitting the ball out or making mistakes.”
Betzing, the junior standout hitter, made few mistakes on Tuesday.
She amassed a massive 26 kills, including nine in the opening game and seven in the closing tilt.
Her thunderous 26th kill ended the match, as she also collected 24 digs including 10 in game two.
She spearheaded the Marauders’ comeback in the first game, as River Valley scored the opening seven points prior to leading 10-2 on an Isabella Mershon ace.
But buoyed by Betzing’s four straight service points to make it 10-6, Meigs amounted 18 of the next 23 game points.
From there, they closed the game with five of the final seven markers.
In game three, the Raiders raced out to leads of 6-0, 9-1 and 13-7, but the Marauders began chipping away at that deficit — and eventually pulled even at 22-22.
From there, the two teams traded leads three times and tied twice more, before the Maroon and Gold gained the win with a pair of Marissa Noble kills.
By the end of game three, the Raiders believed they could have — or even should have — completed the sweep.
“This one easily could have went our way, but we’re still learning how to win. After a couple of rough outings, this was kind of a come-back-together moment. I think the girls are starting to see that they can play with most teams and I think it will turn,” said RVHS coach Brent Smith. “We still have to keep working on our passing and our hitting. I really think it’s about belief, but that belief is coming. Our girls played well tonight, and even though I don’t believe in moral victories, this was at least a hard-fought loss. Had we not let that first one get away from us, the night might have been different.”
The second set went River Valley’s way —and was a thrilling game with nine lead changes and 12 ties.
In fact, six lead changes and five ties took place after a 21-21 deadlock, as Meigs even gained a 26-25 advantage on a Raider attack error.
But River Valley pulled off the final three points for the 28-26 triumph, which was capped off by a Carly Gilmore kill.
Gilmore garnered a team-high 13 kills and 10 blocks, as she matched up at the net against Betzing.
Kelsey Brown added seven kills and Rachel Horner had five, as Caterina Gattinara notched nine blocks — three apiece in sets one, two and four.
Mershon set for 15 assists, as Meigs’ Madison Fields finished with 31 assists and 19 digs.
Both teams return to TVC Ohio action on Thursday, as Meigs travels to Nelsonville-York while River Valley welcomes Vinton County.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106