MERCERVILLE, Ohio — No doubt it was three hotly-contested and competitive volleyball games inside a warm South Gallia High School gymnasium on Monday night.
But, in the end, the Southern Tornadoes escaped with the victory in all three close encounters — and prevailed 25-23, 27-25 and 26-24 in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division tilt over the host Rebels.
In all three sets, there were at least four ties and six lead changes, including the second game that featured six of each and an even more fiery third game that had eight lead changes and a whopping 13 ties.
Still, Southern found a way to finish ahead by the necessary two points in all three — and thus completed the season sweep of the Lady Rebels.
With the hard-fought triumph, and despite the matchup being impacted by attack and hitting errors on both sides, the Tornadoes improved to 5-10 — and to 4-5 in the TVC Hocking as they opened the second round of league play.
Southern snapped a two-game losing streak as well.
The Rebels, which were idle for a week after last Tuesday’s four-set win over Wahama, fell to 2-12 — and to 2-7 in the league.
South Gallia almost forced a fourth game twice on Monday, leading 25-24 in the second game and 23-22 late in the third before being tied at 24-24.
But the Tornadoes, which twice trailed by as much as five points in the opening game, battled back for the win each time.
There were only a pair of lead changes in the first set, as Southern’s largest lead stood at 4-1 — before the Rebels ran off six of the next eight points to lead 7-6.
South Gallia maintained the advantage amid the initial six of seven ties, but saw a 17-13 cushion evaporate into a 22-21 deficit on a hitting error.
The Rebels then tied the game for the final time at 23-23, thanks to the final of Rachal Colburn’s four kills in the set.
But Sydney Cleland’s kill for the Tornadoes tipped the advantage in their favor for game point, which they got on a Rebel attack error.
The second game featured four early lead changes and ties of 1-1, 4-4, 6-6 and 8-8 — as the Tornadoes took a 12-8 advantage on six straight points, including all three aces by Kassie Barton.
Southern secured its largest margin of the game at 17-10, but the Rebels rallied with 13 of the next 19 points to force another tie at 23-23.
With the score tied at 24-24, South Gallia got an ace courtesy of Colburn, but an error, a Rebel lift and a Baylee Wolfe kill turned the Tornadoes’ razor-thin late deficit into a 27-25 win.
Wolfe and Colburn battled each other at the net all night, with Wolfe collecting a match-high 11 kills to clip Colburn (10) by one.
In the third game, Colburn managed five kills and a block, as the Rebels — which led five times but by only one point each time — erased a pair of five-point Tornado advantages at 9-4 and 11-6.
The final of the 13 deadlocks was at 24-24, as Southern finally finished the match off on a Rebel service error and a hard kill by Wolfe.
Wolfe also served up three aces, as did Barton and Baylee Grueser.
Jolisha Ervin added four kills for Southern, as the Tornadoes tallied 17 kills altogether.
Jalen Roberts, who played libero on Monday night with Jane Roush being out, was successful on 64-of-71 of her pass attempts.
Besides Colburn, Christine Griffith garnered six kills for South Gallia, and picked up a pair of solo blocks early in the final game.
Aaliyah Howell had five kills for the Lady Rebels, as Colburn, Kara McCormick, Hannah Shafer, Olivia Hornsby and Amaya Howell had an ace apiece.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106