TROY — The Covington-Troy Christian volleyball matches were a battle to the end int both regular season matches.
Why, should a third-meeting be any different?
And, while it was another close match, it was Covington winning for the third time as the Buccs came away with a 21-25, 25-21, 25-21, 21-15, 15-10 victory in Troy D-IV sectional action Tuesday night.
The Buccs, 17-6, advance to play 17-5 Newton in second round action at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Covington defeated Newton in three sets earlier this season.
“We played them early in the season,” Covington coach Ellie Cain said. “The third set, we had go all out and win. It will be a tough match.”
Troy Christian closes the season at 13-10.
“I am really pleased with the season,” Troy Christian coach David Fourman said. “The team really didn’t come together until July. We have a lot of two-sport athletes playing other sports. It was kind of a roller-coaster season. We had matches where we played really well and other matches where we played poorly. But, I am really proud of the kids and the way they battled.”
And as in the second meeting, it came down to the fifth set after four sets of identical 25-21 scores.
After two points, by Kearsten Wiggins gave Covington a 7-3 lead.
But, two kills by Hallie Fourman rallied the Eagles into a 7-7 tie and led to a Covington timeout.
“A told them it just comes down to who wants it,” Cain said. “It comes down to whether you want your season to continue or your don’t.”
Carlie Besecker had a block and Emmaline Kiser followed with a tip on Besecker’s serve to make it 9-7.
But a four hits call on Covington and a Sarah Johnson kill on Gracie Crumbaker’s serve tied it again at 9-9.
The Buccs would then respond with six of the final seven points to win the race to 15 and the victory.
Reaghan Lamp served an ace and Kiser followed with a kill to make it 11-9.
Johnson countered with a kill for Troy Christian to make it 11-10, before Covington scored the final four points.
Nigella Reck had a kill for sideout.
After two Troy Christian errors on Taylor Kirker’s serve, Reck finished things with a kill.
“Nigella (Reck) was just named (TRC) Player of the Year,” Cain said. “I think she really stepped up at the end.”
Covington had jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set before Troy Christian rallied for a 25-21 win.
The Buccs won the next two sets 25-21 despite Sarah Johnson being a force in the middle.
“We tried to keep everything outside to keep the ball away from her,” Cain said. “We looked at the films from the first two matches and made some corrections.”
Troy Christian then countered by winning the fourth set and forcing a fifth set.
“I am just so proud of my girls for the heart they showed out there,” Fourman said. “To lose the second and third sets and come back and win the fourth set. It could have (went either way).”
For Covington, Reck had 15 kills, three aces and 14 digs and Besecker had six kills, four blocks and 12 digs.
Kiser had 11 kills and six blocks and Lauren York had six kills and 14 digs.
Taylor Kirker had three aces, 38 assists and 13 digs and Wiggins had 18 digs and five blocks.
Jenna Belmaggio added three aces and five digs.
For Troy Christian, Hallie Fourman had 17 kills, 27 digs and 12 assists and Sarah Johnson had 17 kills and five blocks.
Kathleen Johnson added three blocks.
Natalie Courter served four aces, dished out 15 assists and added 22 digs and Emilee Strine had three aces and 17 digs.
Lilly Smith had 10 digs and Gracie Crumbaker added eight digs.