A kill by Weaver gave the Wolverines a 25-24 lead, but a net violation during a Samspon tip tied it again.
Catonsville had two more set points, but couldn’t close the deal and the Wolverines won the final two points on a service error and hitting error.
“It was stressful,” Western Tech setter Beatrice Daudelin said. “Every time they would get the ball we were making errors into the net and my heart was dropping, I was expecting that we were going to have to take it to four or five or whatever.”
Daudelin drew some energy from the epic win and carried it to the service line in set two.
Sheri Adewumi’s kill earned a side out and 1-0 lead and Daudelin followed by serving six straight points, including four aces.
“It was momentum,” Daudelin said. “We were feeling it because we won in overtime in that first set.”
Western Tech coach Eric Jett noted Daudelin’s serving excellence was more then momentum.
“She moves it around on purpose. You could tell she pushed them back and then she dropped them short,” Jett said. “She was trying to get them guessing. It’s a really good idea and she does a good job of it.”
Catonsville never recovered from the heart-breaking first set as its offense produced only five kills in the final two sets, after notching 10 in the first set.
“I think our confidence just tends to waver and that impacts our ability to run our offense and going into the season, that’s one thing that I told my team, is that we need to be consistent with running our offense and unfortunately tonight we were not consistent at all,” Catonsville coach Tonya Feaster said.
Western Tech’s Jett, whose squad’s only losses were to Dulaney and Hereford, knows about inconsistency.
“We have a hard time starting, but it’s okay because we know they have to grit it out and you rely on your grit and scrappiness and your defense and usually when you do that, it will pull you back into it emotionally,”Jett said.
The spirited crowd representing both local rivals could have been a factor for the early nerves and eventually the strong finish.
“Part of it is the home advantage,” Daudelin said. “We had a ton of fans come out today and like all the Catonsville parents came and all the Western parents came because it’s close and it was a really loud game, so we were feeling that too.”
Catonsville did take a 6-2 lead early in the third set on thanks to four consecutive service aces by Sampson.
Western Tech eventually rallied to tie at 10-10 before they scored five straight points and they never trailed again.
Imani Ward started the rally with a pair of aces and that was followed by a kill from Weaver, block by Daudelin and kill from Barry.
“We always go into Western Tech knowing they are going to be scrappy,” Feaster said. “They also have great hitters and they can hit the ball straight down.”
Jett is still fine-tuning his faster offense as the postseason nears.
“We are trying to get better and we need to do that and you saw what it could do today, not only were our middles hitting well, but that absolutely froze their blocker and our strong side hitter constantly had a gap of four feet to hit and my weak-side hitter, nobody even went over there,” Jett said. “That’s exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to be able to run middle because those are my two best hitters, but I’ve got some good hitters on the outside.”