Sensing that his team was up against the ropes Monday evening, down 8-3 in the fifth game against Howard, Glenelg coach Jason Monjes dropped to his knees and began pounding his hands on the floor.
It was do or die time and Monjes wanted to make sure his girls were going to go out fighting.
“I was hoping that if they saw me jacked up, maybe they would get emotional,” Monjes said. “Down by that much, you need something extra. As I always tell them, ‘have no regrets, play without fear and, if you can do that, everything will take care of itself.’ ”
Feeding off that emotion from its first-year coach, Glenelg not only pulled together and erased the deficit, but eventually went on to win the decisive game, 15-13, for a 3-2 overall victory over the visiting Lions.
“When we finally realized we were in this — we made a couple big plays in a row — I think everyone just started building on one another,” said Glenelg’s Morgan Perry, who finished with a team-high 21 kills. “At that point it was just about keeping the momentum going.”
Perry provided a key kill that made it 14-12 in the final game and then, after Howard’s Sydney Biniak (22 kills) cut the deficit to one, Glenelg’s Lauren Wright (8 blocks) delivered the match-winning point.
Glenelg improves to 2-0 in county play, while Howard drops to 1-1.
Howard coach Grant Scott said that as his girls got closer to the finish line, they lost some of the killer instinct that had put them in that position in the first place.
“I think we got into a spot where we were playing not to lose,” Scott said. “That’s the first time most of those girls have been in a game five, at least as long as I’ve been coaching they haven’t seen one. So as tough as it is, it’s an important experience.
“They learned how to lose a game five today, but hopefully come playoffs this experience will help us be able to win one.”
Howard drew first blood Monday, taking the first game, 25-22, despite trailing 10-2 in the early stages.
But Glenelg bounced back in the next game and never trailed on the way to taking the stanza 25-18.
“I knew this was going to be a dog fight … and Glenelg certainly came out to play,” Scott said. “Nothing came easy for either team.”
In game three, Howard capitalized on a 7-0 spurt on the strength of Courtney Merson’s serve to again gain the upper hand with a 25-21 victory. And, with a 13-11 cushion midway through the fourth frame, there was a brief moment when the Lions seemed on track to win the match going away.
However, as was the case all evening, Glenelg dug down for a little something extra. The Gladiators surged back into the lead and clinched the game, 25-21, on a kill by Sarah Girard (14 kills).
Then, following the early deficit in the tiebreaker, the Gladiators made their final comeback to seal the victory.
“Honestly, I didn’t know they had that kind of gutsy effort in them. I knew they had heart, but until you get out there in a match, in that kind of situation, you just don’t know how much,” Monjes said. “A win like this can go a long way for the whole season. It shows a lot of character.”
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