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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Woodlan’s Brooke Gerbers sets the ball for Hannah Robbins in the first game at Leo.

Lions overcome slow start to win ACAC opener

Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Woodlan’s Brooke Gerbers, left, and Kory Gerig go up to block Leo’s return in the second game at Leo on Tuesday. After losing the first game, the Lions won in four games.

LEO-CEDARVILLE – The attempted comeback by the Leo volleyball team in the opening game against ACAC rival Woodlan on Tuesday didn’t net a win, but it wasn’t in vain either.

The Lions’ rally fell short, but the fire was lit as the home team won the final three games and beat the Warriors in four games 22-25, 25-17, 25-15, 25-21 in the conference opener.

Leo fell behind 23-17 in Game 1, only to scratch back into it and cut the margin to 23-22. Woodlan was able to take the first game with two quick points, 25-22, but the momentum was already turning.

“I don’t know if we were ready right at the beginning,” Leo coach Ashlee Robbins said.

“Our big motto this year is family, and we can’t win with just one person. We have so many different options, and if we just try to go to one person we are going to get beat. We talked (at a timeout) that we can’t do this that way. You saw that start to come at the end of the first game. And if we are playing fired up, we are a tough team.”

The Lions won the middle two games with ease, 25-15 and 25-17, only to find themselves again in a dogfight in the fourth game, with a 22-21 lead late in the game. Leo scored the final three points to close out the game and the match.

“We wanted to come out and destroy them, but we played it safe,” Leo junior Brittany Miller said of the opening game. “In the second and third games, we just came out and did what we had to do and finish it out (in the fourth game). It was more mentally we had to get ourselves together.”

Miller led the Lions with 25 kills, while senior Keanna Gary added 15 kills and freshman Alyssa Gross had 45 assists.

Leo remained unbeaten at 8-0 and got the upper hand over Woodlan in the conference regular-season race, while the Warriors fell to 5-2 and 0-1 in the ACAC. The two teams could battle again in the ACAC tournament and the sectional.

“Very good start,” Robbins said of opening the conference slate with a win. “It’s not over by any means, and any team can walk away with it.”

Sophomore Tori Bontrager led the Warriors with 13 kills, while senior Hannah Robbins added 11.

While Leo was roaring after the slow start, Woodlan seemed to fizzle out emotionally.

“It was our energy and passion and enthusiasm (that got us going) because we came out with that from the start,” first-year Woodlan coach Lindsay Enterline said.

“When we switched into that second set, we got very complacent, and that was where the switch was made. We are a team that feeds on that. It wasn’t a matter of how we played, but it was about our energy.

“Our girls are learning to fight for each other, no matter what the score is. They are doing a good job of that, but it has to be every single set.”