DALLAS – It didn't look good for Nanticoke Area.
Down 2-1 in the match and 22-15 in the fourth set. A possible second seed for the upcoming District 2 Class AA playoffs hanging in the balance.
One loss, and no chance for the two seed.
Cue Alexandra Brassington.
The Trojan setter used her crafty underhand serve to rack up nine consecutive service points to squeak out a fourth-set win and Nanticoke led wire-to-wire in the fifth en route to a 3-2 win over Dallas in Wyoming Valley Conference girls' volleyball.
Match scores were 25-16, 23-25, 22-25, 25-22 and 15-11.
We pulled ourselves together and said this is what we need to do, said Brassington, who finished with a match-high 31 assists. We had to pick ourselves up. If we would have lost this one, there was no chance for that second seed.
That was the mantra for Nanticoke (14-3). Win, and let the intangibles play out.
Currently, the Trojans, Crestwood and North Pocono are all tied for the No. 2 seed – and all are expected to finish that way after the regular season ends.
Of course, the second and third seed is important because it means the opposite side of the bracket from undefeated Holy Redeemer (16-0).
We would rather go against that toss or pull the name out of a hat, whatever is decided upon, Nanticoke head coach Deb Krupinski said. A loss here and we were locked into that fourth seed.
It was a match of emotion.
Nanticoke rolled to a 25-16 win in the first set, only to see Dallas' 10 seniors respond in their final home game.
Behind several big smashes from Tanner Englehart, and crafy net play by Rachel Olszewski, the Mountaineers rallied for a win in the second set after trailing by as many as six.
Marlee Nelson took over the third, racking up five kills and ending it on an ace, putting Dallas up 2-1.
The girls wanted it because this was their senior night, Dallas coach Meredith Ohl said. They knew how important this was. Nanticoke is a team we may see in the postseason. The intensity got to us. I think that all the adrenaline started to kick in, and I think we lost our focus a little bit.
It appeared all but over as Dallas (11-6) held a seemingly-comfortable 22-15 lead in the fourth set.
It slipped away in five minutes – thanks to nine straight service points by Brassington and several big swings by Kayley Schinski and Allie Matulewski.
I can't do an overhand serve. I tried it as a freshman and just couldn't do it, Brassington said of the underhand serve. My mom was a volleyball player and she told me to try an underhand serve, and it worked for me. I really just tried to stay focused and after each serve, I just kept telling myself to work on the next one. I didn't want to talk with anyone. I wasn't even cheering with the team. I was just so focused.
The fifth set wasn't close.
Schinski had kills on five of the first nine points and Nanticoke jumped out to an 8-1 lead.
It was a crazy game with so many highs and lows. We dug ourselves out, and I still don't know how, Krupinski said. I think this was the first team all season that we've come up against that truly blocked well. They double-block so well. I give them a lot of credit. The turning point was when Lefty (Alexandra Brassington) was serving with that soft, underhand motion. I think it finally rattled them. It was a long game. You have to keep your head in it.
Schinski and Matulewski combined for 23 of the Trojans' 39 kills. Englehart had 12 kills to pace Dallas.
Nanticoke Leaders: Kayley Schinski 12 kills, 1 assist, 1 ace; Allie Matulewski 11 kills, 3 aces; Alexandra Brassington 31 assists, 4 kills, 3 aces.
Dallas Leaders: Tanner Englehart 12 kills, 5 aces; Rachel Olszewski 9 kills; Marlee Nelson 5 kills, 4 aces; Lauren Jones, 12 assists.