BIDWELL, Ohio — For the Wellston Golden Rockets, it was indeed quite the comeback.
For the River Valley Lady Raiders, it was certainly one that got away.
That’s because — inside the sweltering River Valley High School gymnasium on Tuesday night — the Golden Rockets rallied from a two-games-to-one deficit, and clipped the Lady Raiders 25-27, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21 and 15-11 in a marathon Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division volleyball tilt.
River Valley, which just snapped a 12-match losing streak with a straight-set sweep of Ohio Valley Christian School on Monday night, had just won the third game to go up 2-1.
The Lady Raiders then erased a 2-0 fourth-game deficit by scoring 10 consecutive points — the final nine of which came off the serve of Rachel Horner, including book-ending the spree with five aces.
However, River Valley’s victory celebration never materialized, for the Golden Rockets responded with 23 of the final 34 points to force a fifth and decisive game.
In that fifth set, Wellston never trailed, building leads as large as 6-1 and 14-9 — sandwiched around its withstanding of a mini-Raider rally that got the Silver and Black to within to 8-7.
For the Golden Rockets, it was their second such five-game outlasting of the Raiders for the season sweep, as Wellston won the two clubs’ initial meeting on Aug. 31.
With Tuesday’s triumph, the Rockets raised their record to 7-8 — and to 3-5 in the TVC Ohio.
The loss left the Lady Raiders at 3-14, as they remain winless inside the division at 0-8.
In all honesty, River Valley views the contest as one it should have captured.
The first four games were hotly-contested inside the warm gym, as the Raiders rallied in the opening set for the 27-25 win.
The set featured nine ties and seven lead changes, as Wellston was actually ahead 24-23 before a Rocket attack error kept the game going.
Wellston tied the game on a Raider service error, but a Carly Gilmore kill and another Rocket attack error gave River Valley an early 1-0 advantage.
The Rockets rallied from an 8-3 deficit in the second game, which featured four lead changes and four ties with the final one coming at 22-22.
Wellston won the final three points, as a Hannah Stewart block-kill and a pair of Raider hitting errors ended it.
In game three, it was more of the same — with six lead changes and nine deadlocks, including at 21-21.
But the Raiders got a pair of Horner kills sandwiched around a pair of Wellston errors, as Caterina Gattinara served up an ace to give the Silver and Black a 25-22 win — and more importantly a 2-1 lead.
With River Valley leading 10-2 in the fourth, Wellston whittled the deficit all the way down to 15-14 — before the Raiders picked up three more points.
The Golden Rockets got a sideout to make it 18-15, then Sydney Mullins served for five straight points, which included three Emily Kisor kills.
Back-to-back kills by Gattinara and Horner tied the game at 20-20, but Wellston won five of the final six points for the 2-2 tie — including two kills by Madison Stewart and an ace by Kaylee Taynor.
Stewart then collected a kill and back-to-back aces for the 6-1 Wellston cushion in game five, as after River Valley rallied to within 8-7, the Raiders never got closer after back-to-back kills by Kelli Aubrey and Kisor.
A thunderous kill by Hannah Stewart finally clinched the come-from-behind win.
Madison Stewart paced the Golden Rockets with 15 kills and three aces, while Hannah Stewart netted nine kills and Kisor chipped in seven.
Lilly Stanley played an all-around good game with six kills, 11 digs, a pair of aces and set for 29 assists.
Mullins, the Golden Rockets’ libero, led in digs with 27.
The Lady Raiders registered 33 kills on 131 total attacks, and accounted for 16 aces on 97 serves in play.
River Valley only had 29 assists and 32 digs as a team, but did chalk up seven solo blocks.
First-year RVHS head coach Brent Smith refused to make comment following the match, and quickly left the gymnasium.
The Raiders return home, and return to action next Tuesday, when they host Athens for another league affair.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106
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