Class D No. 1 Howells-Dodge trailed two sets to one and was down 19-17 in the fourth, before rebounding to defeat Class C No. 6 Lutheran High Northeast, 21-25, 25-15, 21-25, 25-22, 15-8 on Thursday at Lutheran High's Andrews Activity Center.
"This game proves a lot to us," Howells-Dodge setter and right-side hitter Ellie Baumert said. "We came from a little bit behind and then we got our way back up, we finished and we pushed all the way through."
Baumert, who last year committed to play her college volleyball at Texas Tech, filled up the stat sheet with 21 kills, 29 set assists, four ace serves and two solo blocks. "It's good for us to play these five-setters and these tough matches," she said, "because up to this point, we really haven't played this level of competition."
For Lutheran High, it was another, in a season filled with close losses. "We have our moments when we can take control of the match and we let it go," Eagle coach Kathy Gebhardt said.
"So, we've got to find a way that we're just going to grab that when it's right there in front of us and go finish and get it done. Everybody has that little thing that they can do and if they can do just a little bit better, we'd be winning these matches."
Lutheran High did the little things late to win the first set. After trailing 18-10, the Eagles went on a 15-3 run in which middle Mia Furst recorded a block and six of her 23 kills.
The second set was all Howells-Dodge. The Jaguars opened with a 7-1 lead and from there, the margin was never less than five en route to a 25-15 verdict.
"The better team adjusts, and that's exactly what we did," Baumert said.
Lutheran High did some adjusting of its own in the third set. Kealy Ranslem assisted Lauren Buhrman on a kill to give the Eagles an 11-10 advantage, and they never trailed the rest of the way. Kendra Petersen's kill provided the set winner and a two-sets-to-one lead in the match.
The Eagles then looked to have a good opportunity to win the match in four sets. Lutheran High held a 19-17 advantage after Petersen drilled another of her eight kills.
But that's when it started to slip away. Grace Baumert took advantage of a Lutheran High overdig and an attack error to tie it at 19.
After another Petersen kill gave the Eagles a one-point lead, an attack error tied it and a Grace Baumert service ace gave the Jaguars the lead at 21-20.
A Furst kill tied it at 21, but a kill by Natalie Pieper and two by Ellie Baumert had the visitors up 24-21. Avery Koeppe fought off a set point with a kill, but Ellie Baumert answered with her third straight tally to tie the match at two sets apiece.
"We transitioned her into a hitter," Howells-Dodge coach Taryn Janke said of Ellie Baumert. "Last year she set all year around and she's come out on fire. It was a slow start, but she's getting it and she's putting it down for us."
On the other side of the net, Furst said she felt she and her teammates needed to be more aggressive at the net. "I feel like we free-balled a lot of balls over, which made our offense a little bit slower," she said.
The Jaguars used the momentum of the fourth set to transition into the fifth and took a 9-3 lead after three consecutive kills by Pieper.
Then, leading 14-8, Ellie Baumert set up her sister Grace, who drilled a cross-court winner from the back row to give the Jaguars their 12th win in 13 tries.
Ellie Baumert said she thought her team's mindset provided the difference in the fifth set. "I think we were just like, 'OK, we just came out and won this (fourth) set. We have to keep on a roll,' and that's exactly what we did. We passed really well, and everything just came together that fifth set. It was great."
Meanwhile, Gebhardt said her team can learn from this match. "I think this will make us better. I just want us to take it one more notch and see if we can get there."
Howells-Dodge is back in action on Thursday in Dodge when it hosts a triangular with Cedar Bluffs and Pender.
Meanwhile, it doesn't get any easier for Lutheran High as the Eagles take their show on the road to Pierce, also on Thursday. "They beat us at the Wakefield tournament, and they looked really, really good," Gebhardt said.
HOWELLS-DODGE DEFEATED LUTHERAN HIGH NORTHEAST 21-25, 25-15, 21-25, 25-22, 15-8
HOWELLS-DODGE (12-1): Blair Fiala 31s, 1b; Grace Baumert 23k, 2s, 3a; Carly Bayer 6k, 1s, 2a, 1b; Brooklyn Macholan 4k, 2b; Morgan Gall 1a; Natalie Pieper 11k, 1b; Ellie Baumert 21k, 29s, 4a, 2b.
LUTHERAN HIGH NORTHEAST (10-6): Avery Koeppe 5k, 4s; Kealy Ranslem 24s; Kendra Petersen 8k, 2a; Mia Furst 23k, 1b; Lauren Buhrman 11k, 19s, 1a, 1b; Mia Wiederin 2k; Alyssa Marotz 2k; Amber Bockelman 1s, 1a.