HUBBARD - There was no moment when Hubbard Eagles volleyball coach Chuck Montgomery felt comfortable that a win was within grasp against the Salem Quakers here Oct. 7.
When Montgomery looks back on the Eagles' win in four games, he might zero in on the start of the match as the turning point. With the gymnasium more than half full with boisterous fans, the Eagles enjoyed a definitive homecourt advantage.
"Basketball teams get this kind of stuff. This is volleyball here in Hubbard," Montgomery said. "It says a lot for our program, our community and how much our kids love this kind of stuff."
The Eagles won the first two games by scores of 25-22 and 25-17. The Quakers won game three, 25-23, but the Eagles came back to win the fourth game, 25-16.
This might have been the most anticipated volleyball match in the area for years. The Quakers, who have a 15-2 record, are the second-ranked Division II team in Ohio. The Eagles, who improved their record to 17-0, are ranked fifth in Division II.
Salem came to town led by senior Amy Scullion, who is headed to Ohio State to play basketball. Scullion looks like the perfect front-row player with her tall stature and strong spiking and blocking skills.
Hubbard countered with senior Jackie Carlisle, who's capable of dominating matches from her outside hitter position. Carlisle is headed to Youngstown State University.
The pre-game hype led to an atmosphere that had a tournament-like feel to it. Fans swarmed around the Eagles after the end of the match, creating a scene you'd expect to see in a district final.
"It was exciting and nervous. I couldn't wait to play," Carlisle said.
The Eagles showed that they meant business with a seven-point run in the first game to take a 9-2 lead with Carlisle serving. When the first game was complete, there was a sense that the Eagles weren't going to let up.
Hubbard continued to control play in the second game, which set up what seemed to be a sweep of the match.
The Quakers, however, weren't ready to head home. Trailing 23-21 in the third game, Salem scored the final four points to set up a fourth game and cause a few anxious moments for Montgomery.
"I told the girls going into the third game that it's not going to be easy," Montgomery said. "They're not just going to roll over. We hung in there in the third game. A couple of plays went their way. Our whole team played pretty solid."
Scullion showcased her skills in taking control of play at times, but the Eagles countered with a strong effort by Carlisle and more balance.
"You have to try to control her a little bit. You know she's going to get it," Montgomery said of Scullion. "She wants to do everything she can for her team. She's just an outstanding competitor.
"She's going to come at you all the time. Even that last game she got a couple points in a row. I'm saying, 'This thing isn't over, yet. You don't want to go five (games).' "
Carlisle finished with 32 kills and had four service aces and 12 points. Marcy Angelo had 35 assists for the Eagles. Libero Dawn Lingenfelter had 26 digs, and Lexi Starheim had a strong front-court performance in recording six blocks and seven kills.
"It was a fun night," Montgomery said.