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Collinsville outlasts Tioga for playoff berth

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
The Collinsville Lady Pirates celebrate a point during their 16-2A victory over Tioga

TIOGA — The battle for the second seed has been close. Both the Collinsville Lady Pirates and Tioga Lady Bulldogs have been matching wins and losses and found themselves tied with four matches remaining.

And their first meeting went the distance, so there was no reason to think the second wouldn’t end the same way.

“We knew it was going to be tough. We had a feeling they’d be out for revenge,” Collinsville head coach Melissa Johnson said. “We have to be mentally tougher than the other teams. It was such a roller-coaster.”

The Lady Pirates were able to survive as Collinsville defeated Tioga, 21-25, 25-15, 28-26, 19-25, 15-11, in District 16-2A action.

It clinched a playoff spot for Collinsville (11-10, 8-3), which can lock up the second seed with a victory at home against Trenton or a loss by Tioga, which dropped to 7-4 in district play, at Sam Rayburn.

“Pulling out that win, it was big-time for us,” Johnson said. “We talked about seeding and playoffs. Guess what solves all that — a win. That’d all be taken care of with a W. We can shut down worrying who we play next and who they play next.”

The Lady Bulldogs can clinch their playoff berth with a win Friday and a Wolfe City loss to Tom Bean, which needs just one more win for the top seed. Trenton and Wolfe City are the others still in the hunt to make the postseason with three matches to go.

Collinsville didn’t want to wait any longer to earn its ninth straight playoff berth. The Lady Pirates rocketed out the gate in Game 5 with five straight points — three on Taylor Sheppard kills — for a lead they never lost. Kinsey Evans led Tioga’s comeback attempt with four kills in the first six Lady Bulldogs’ points.

The deficit was down to two at 9-7 on a kill from Katy Jordan but Tioga ended up making three service errors that provided just enough breathing room for Collinsville to hang on after Tioga’s final rally to within 13-11 before the Lady Pirates closed it out.

Despite losing a pivotal third game which could have put it in position to close out the match in Game 4, Tioga kept its composure and started on a 4-0 spurt.

The Lady Pirates came back with an 8-0 run that gave them an 11-5 advantage but the Lady Bulldogs were not going to go quietly. Bekah Wineberg had consecutive aces in the first part of a 12-3 run which gave Tioga an 18-15 lead which they managed the rest of the stanza to force the deciding fifth contest.

Both teams blew chances to put away the other in Game 3 and the Lady Pirates made the most of their second opportunity.

Sheppard opened with three straight kills and Audrey Miller closed the 9-1 run with an ace and a kill.

Tioga answered with a 5-0 run but Collinsville maintained the lead until the Lady Bulldogs were up 14-13 and the drama increased with each ensuing point — there were eight ties and five lead changes.

Evans had consecutive aces to give the home team a 21-20 lead and the Lady Bulldogs stayed ahead until they had game point at 24-22. Addisyn McDonnell kept Collinsville alive with a kill and the Lady Pirates got the next two points and were up 25-24.

This time Tioga was able to keep the game going and Evans' kill gave the Lady Bulldogs a third game point situation.

But Collinsville found a way to tie it at 26, Sheppard put up a block and the Lady Pirates were up 2-1 after a Tioga hitting error.

Game 2 was the most lopsided stanza of the night as Collinsville was able to bounce back and even the match.

The Lady Bulldogs held some early leads but the Lady Pirates went ahead at 3-2 and never trailed. McDonnell led a 5-1 burst that widened the gap to 19-11 and Tioga tried to come back but never trimmed the deficit below six points.

Tioga rallied to win Game 1 after the Lady Bulldogs fell behind 9-2. It took an 8-2 run to get the frame even at 12 but Tioga wouldn’t gain its first lead until a kill from Jordan made it 17-16.

The Lady Bulldogs didn’t trail the rest of opening game, although Sheppard and Johnson rallied the Lady Pirates to within 22-21 before Tioga notched the final three points to hang on.

District 16-2A

Collinsville    3

Tioga             2