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FORT WAYNE — Aided by a pair of crucial "in the net" calls during the latter stages of game five, No. 5 Concordia outlasted No. 1 Bellmont 16-14 for the 3-2 victory in a clash of area volleyball titans Tuesday night at a stuffy Concordia gym.
The Lady Cadets rallied to win the first game 26-24, then took game two 25-20. Bellmont stormed back to dominate game three, 25-17 and won a tough game four 25-23 to set the stage for an exciting game five.
Three Bailee Hankenson kills and two by Payton Schultz helped Bellmont jump out 7-3. Consecutive kill shots from Holly Hankenson and Steph Shoup put Bellmont up 11-8.
Schultz scored a key block kill, turning back the shot of frosh slugger Tionna Williams, for a 12-11 BHS lead. That's when the first net call tied the contest at 12. The second one tied the game at 14. After a miss-hit, Emily Hockemeyer, who had 19 kills for the winners, connected from the left side to close out the match.
"Bellmont knows how to win. Fortunately, tonight we found out how to win," stated Concordia coach Tricia Miller.
"This is what it's all about — the crowd yelling, a packed gym — and it was awesome."
Bellmont coach Craig Krull disagreed with the net calls. "I thought Concordia played well, and I thought we played well after letting the first game go. I can't be too hard on our girls. I think the difference in them winning by two points was the three phantom net calls that they guy made, especially the two at the end. If your in the net, the net moves. The net never moved."
With Bellmont up 24-21 in the first game, the first crucial net call was made, putting Concordia on a five-point run with Allie Miller serving.
With Concordia leading game three 9-5, the match was stopped for five minutes while a spill from the Concordia crowd was cleaned up, of course on the Bellmont side.
However, Concordia seemed to lose focus at that point. A five point service run by Allison Gutierrez, including two of her four aces on the night, put Bellmont up 14-12. Two key kills by frosh Janaya Wilder and a tap down of a loose ball by Sarah Norder closed out the win.
"A loss is a loss. It doesn't hurt our main goal at the end of the year," said Krull.
"We knew coming in Concordia was going to be strong with the seven seniors — most play all of the time — then the big freshman girl in the middle. They are very good. They just did the little things better than we did to win those games," said the coach, noting that Bellmont will get a rematch at 10 a.m. Saturday at Yorktown.
"The third game we beat them easily. In the fourth game we closed them out, overcoming my mistake, forgetting to put Allison down as Libero. We had to use her as a normal sub.
"We fought through our adversities. I thought we played well in different situations. In the fifth game we were right there but got stuck in a rotation and couldn't get through it."
Hockemeyer led Concordia with 19 kills while Emily Cage had 11 and Williams 16. Senior setter Marah Bradbury had a big night with 50 assists, five kills and eight digs. Allie Miller brought up 19 digs.
Holly Hankenson led BHS with 15 kills, adding four digs. Schultz had 12 kills,, and ace and five block-assists while Bailee Hankenson recorded 12 kills with 23 assists, five digs and two block-assists.
Norder had six kills and two block-assists while senior setter Steph Shoup had five kills, 27 assists, four digs and five block-assists. Erin Hunter recorded 10 digs with two aces while Gutierrez had 18 digs and the four aces.
Wilder added seven kills with five digs and a block-assist.
The Squaws dropped to 3-1 on the season and face South Adams Thursday.