By Rob Kiser
TROY — Lehman senior Sidney Chapman was clutching the Division IV volleyball district championship trophy after another stunning comeback by the Lady Cavaliers.
And she didn’t have any plans of letting go.
The Lady Cavaliers rallied for a 25-15, 21-25, 23-25, 25-18, 15-9 win over Russia.
Lehman, 16-10, will play unbeaten Jackson Center in a Brookville D-III regional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Brookville High School.
It was Lehman’s second straight five set win after not going five sets all year.
“The kids just really stepped up,” Lehman coach Greg Snipes said.
Russia coach Aaron Watkins, while disappointed with the loss, feels like the Lady Raiders began to change the culture of the program.
“Definitely,” he said. “You never want to look towards next year, but we are building something here. We want to be here in the district tournament every year and this was a start.”
Russia actually held a 5-4 lead early in the fifth set after a kill by Claudia Counts.
But, Lauren Larger had a kill and Madison Hussey served three straight points, including a block by Larger to make it 8-5.
“We just never recovered after that,” Watkins said.
Chapman and freshman Abby Schutt both came up big down the stretch for the Cavaliers.
Schutt had kills for sideouts at 9-6 and 10-7, when Chapman rotated back into the front row.
After a Chapman kill for sideout at 11-8, Scutt served three straight points to make it 14-8 and match point. That including a kill by Chapman and a block by Chapman and Malorie Hussey.
“Abby (Schutt) really stepped up in the fifth set,” Snipes said. “She didn’t get the one ball, but after that, she made a lot of big plays.”
Cameo Wilson had a block to keep Russia alive, before a Chapman kill finished it at 14-9.
“Sometimes, you just expect Sidney (Chapman) to get a kill on every swing, which is not realistic,” Snipes said. “But, she had some big kills tonight.”
Lehman had rolled through the first set to win 25-15, before a complete reversal in the next two sets.
The blocking and tipping of Russia, led by Wilson and Christina Gaerke, combined with the defense and serving of Whitney Pleiman swung the momentum.
“That (tipping and blocking) was our game plan coming in,” Watkins said. “I didn’t think we did a good job of that in the first set, but we did in the next two sets.”
Snipes admitted the same.
“We came out and played well in the first games,” he said. “Then the second and third games, we got so far down, we never gave ourselves a chance. We kept talking to them about that.”
Lehman rallied from a 17-11 deficit in the second set to tie it at 18.
But, at 22-21 Russia scored on a missed serve and Pleiman served out the set with tips from Counts and Laurissa Poling.
In the third set, Russia had a 24-17 lead, when Alexis Snipes served six straight points to make it 24-23. That included two kills by Chapman.
Wilson had a kill to give Russia the set, but the momentum had swung.
“I think that is what got us,” Watkins said. “We had such a hard time finishing off that set.”
The fourth set was tied 11-11 when Lehman’s Camille Odle when on a nine-point service run.
Included two aces and three kills by Chapman.
Lehman finished at 24-18 on a kill by Malorie Hussey, forcing a fifth and deciding set.
“To have such a young team and win the last two matches in five sets, that says a lot for our team,” Snipes said.
For Lehman, Chapman pounded 36 kills.
Ellie Scott had six kills and Schutt and Larger added four kills each.
Snipes dished out 28 assists and Lauren McFarland had 22.
Madison Hussey led the defense with 25 digs.
For the Lady Raiders, who finish the season 14-12, Wilson had 14 kills, Poling 12, Christina Gaerke eight and Morgan Wenrick seven. Jenna Cordonnier set them up with 38 assists.
Whitney Pleiman broke her own school record for digs in a match, finishing with 43. That also put hear over 1,000 digs for her career.
Chloe Sherman added 21 digs, Lexi Monnin had 18 and Katie Swartz finished with 10.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.