ARCANUM — It didn’t matter that the Franklin Monroe volleyball team came in with a 20-2 record, while Lehman Catholic was 10-12.
It didn’t matter that the Jets were the fourth seed and the Cavaliers were the eighth seed.
It didn’t matter that Lehman had spent the first two sets playing from behind and was on the verge of having its season end.
The Cavaliers weren’t going to lose in the opening round of sectionals — something longtime Lehman coach Greg Snipes has never experienced.
“That doesn’t happen at Lehman,” senior Maddy McFarland said after the Cavaliers rallied for a 19-25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-19, 15-9 win in the opening round of the Arcanum Division III sectional action Wednesday night. “It means a lot to get this win. It means our hard work is paying off.”
Lehman showed heart and prevailed and will now play Triad at 4 p.m. Saturday in a second-round sectional game.
“I believe our schedule definitely helped us tonight,” Snipes said. “Early in the season, we wouldn’t have come back and won after dropping two sets.”
In the deciding set, Maddy McFarland had a five-set serving run, aided by four kills by Lucia. Lucia added another on a sideout to make it 8-3 before she exited the front row.
“It just takes one person to get hot and the whole team gets fired up,” Lucia said.
Maddy McFarland, who also had an early kill when the Jets led 2-1 and an ace, never left the floor.
“She just does so many things for us,” Snipes said. “And she does them all well.”
But, just as quickly, Franklin-Monroe ran off five unanswered points.
“We get off to that great start,” Snipes said. “Then, they tie it back up.”
But, just when the momentum seemed to be swinging, Malorie Hussey had two big kills and a block to give Lehman an 11-9 lead and force the Jets to use their final timeout.
“Malorie (Hussey) had some big kills and a lot of them were at critical moments,” Snipes said. “Alexis (Snipes) did a great job of picking the right girls to go to. That was huge there in the fifth set.”
That sent Lauren McFarland to the service line and she never left it, serving four straight points to end the match and start the Lehman celebration.
“I didn’t know if I would (serve out the match), but I was hoping,” Lauren McFarland said.
A hitting error by Franklin-Monroe and a spike by Ellie Scott made it 13-9.
Lauren McFarland then had a back row kill to set up match point, and Frankin-Monroe’s return of her serve was wide, ending the match.
Nobody would have expected that finish after the first two sets, which the Jets won by matching 25-19 scores.
“Olivia (Lucia) kind of gave us a spark,” Snipes said. “But, that is what she has done all year. I think we just finally started playing with confidence. I made some defensive adjustments and the girls believed in it.”
A kill by Maddy McFarland and an ace by Lauren McFarland gave the Cavaliers a 23-19 lead in the third set. Franklin-Monroe scored the next four points to tie it but then had two hitting errors to send it to a fourth set.
In the fourth set, Lehman was down 4-3 early. A tip by Snipes for sideout and three points on Pyper Larkins serve made it 7-4. Hussey and Scott had kills for sideouts and Lauren McFarland serve an ace and service winner to make it 11-6.
Lauren Larger had a two-point service run and Lauren McFarland had a three-point run to make it 23-16 on a kill by Hussey.
At 24-19, Maddy McFarland had an attack Franklin-Monroe couldn’t handle, and it was on to a deciding fifth set as Lehman completed an amazing comeback.
Lucia finished with 20 kills in the match and Lauren McFarland had eight, while Maddy McFarland and Hussey each had five.
Snipes dished out 36 assists.
“I am really proud of these girls and the way they battled,” Greg Snipes said.
Rob Kiser is the sports editor of the Piqua Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.