Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
MT. PLEASANT — Washington and Mt. Pleasant volleyball clashed in a Southeast Conference five set skirmish on Tuesday night with Mt. Pleasant looking for its first conference win and Washington its second.
Winning the night was Mt. Pleasant 25-17, 25-22, 21-25, 15-25 and 15-12.
It wasn’t an easy path for the Panthers though. After Mt. Pleasant took the first two sets, the Demons dug deep winning the next two to force a fifth set.
“They have the fight,” Mt. Pleasant head coach David Streeter said. “I told them in between the fourth and fifth set that it was up to them, whether they fold or win. They came out to fight and win.”
With Washington holding all the momentum after knotting up the match, Mt. Pleasant didn’t not back away as Washington would never lead in the fifth.
The Panthers wasted no time jumping out to an 3-0 lead. Washington would make it 3-1, but that quickly turned into a 5-1 and then 7-2 advantage for Mt. Pleasant after a Jersey Beachy ace, which would mark the largest lead of the set.
Washington was within six two times throughout the final set and made it a one point game at 12-11 and 13-12, but Mt. Pleasant was able to stave off the Washington attack for its first conference win.
“This win means a lot,” Mt. Pleasant senior setter Tristian Shull said. “We’ve had a bit of a losing streak so far and it’s really important to get a win in there, especially when we’re going into conference games.”
Mt. Pleasant looked good out of the gate as they used Washington mistakes to their advantage.
The Demons and Panthers were neck and neck throughout the first set with neither leading more than two up until the Mt. Pleasant took a 12-9 lead. From then on they would never trail as the Panthers outscored the Demons 13-7 the rest of the way out.
In the second set it was no different.
Mt. Pleasant built up leads of 6-2 and 19-14 throughout the match, but Washington never backed down.
Washington was able to cut it down to two at 21-19 and 24-22 late, but the Panthers rattled off the next point to take a 2-0 match lead.
With one win needed to complete the sweep, the Panthers had the Demons right where they wanted them, but Washington wasn’t going to bow out.
The Demons built up a 7-2 lead to start the set, but Mt. Pleasant scored five straight to make it 7-7. Washington answered back with four of their own, but Mt. Pleasant put together another 5-0 run ending with a block to take a 12-11 advantage.
Taking a lead and allowing a run was the narrative of set three.
Washington took yet another lead at 17-13, but Mt. Pleasant scored seven unanswered to make it 20-17.
Three serves later, it was knotted up at 20-20. The Panthers scored the next point to take a 21-20 lead, but the Demons hunkered down with five straight points to cut the match lead to 2-1.
“We struggle when we get into our heads and we don’t talk as much,” Shull said. “When we play as a team, we definitely talk and we’re louder. That’s something I’v noticed as a setter. When we get down we get quiet. That makes it hard to get out of that rut.”
To tie the match at 2-2, the Demons dominated set number four.
Mt. Pleasant would score first, but that was its only lead of the set. The Panthers would cut it to one 7-6, but that’s as close as they would come. Over the next 10 set points, Washington would take nine of them to take a 16-7 lead.
The Panther were able to score 15 points in the set, but not before the Demons reached the 25 points needed to win it and tie the match 2-2.
Although Washington dropped the fifth set, it was a great showing a fight from the Demons.
“It was almost like we self imploded on things with service errors, just defensive position errors and hitting errors that got us down,” Washington head coach Aaron Six said. “Then we came back and battled. We have to be able to put those away. We played a little tentative and played not to lose, rather than to win.
Washington and Mt. Pleasant next contests will be at the Ottumwa Volleyball Invitational on Saturday. The two teams are in the same pool at the tournament.