The Delaware Hayes volleyball team seemed at times like it was in over its head. The Pacers pulled the plug on the drain, though, and came back to win a thrilling five-set match against visiting Worthington Kilbourne Tuesday in Delaware.
Hayes had to come from behind to win the final two sets in a 25-21, 25-27, 22-25, 26-24, 18-16 OCC-Cardinal victory over the Wolves. Delaware (7-3, 3-2 OCC) has now won its last six games, a streak that doubles its win total from last year.
“It’s been a long time since Hayes has seen (success) in its volleyball program,” Delaware coach Liz Kaylor-Palmer said. “(The team) is really working for it. Coming from a losing program that only averages two to three wins a season, (now) they have the confidence and they believe in themselves.”
The Pacers had an early edge, taking the first set and leading most of the way in the second.
But, Kilbourne (4-4, 2-3), which trailed by as many as six points in the set, came back to tie it before Maddie Reeve’s kill ended it. It was the only time in the set that the Wolves led by more than one point.
The Wolves used an 8-0 run to take control in the third set before Lauryn Rocassin had an ace and a kill to pull Delaware within two points. But, Reeve finished off the Pacers with another kill to give the Wolves the advantage.
Rocassin led the Pacers with 20 kills, 16 assists, 17 digs and five aces.
Last year, Delaware might have sunk when it got in over its head. But Kaylor-Palmer said it’s different this time.
“These girls just have the right mentality,” Kaylor-Palmer said. “In the past, we haven’t always had the skill level and that’s what we’ve been building. But, to be a successful team, you not only have to have the skill, but the right mentality … and we’ve got a group of girls that are piecing that together.”
Nothing backed that up like the eight straight points in the third set to give the Pacers a 22-13 lead. Hadlee Bruns had a pair of aces and Julia Justice had two blocks during the run.
“(Justice) really brings a calming influence,” Kaylor-Palmer said. “She definitely does well swinging, but blocking is her specialty. She is the type of player that stays focused and determined on what her job is.”
The water rose again when Kilbourne rallied for eight straight points to pull within one. Reeve and Kayla Beals had a block each and combined on another to lead the way for the Wolves.
But Justice came through with another key block for the Pacers before Audrey Hannahs won the tying set with an ace. Justice finished with five blocks overall and Hannahs had 27 digs and four assists for Delaware.
The teams went back and forth through the final set before Ally James used a pair of touch shots on the final two points to complete the comeback.
Sydney Krewson had 17 kills, 21 digs, five assists and a pair of blocks for the Pacers.
“She’s a go-to kid … she’s the kid I don’t want to rip off the floor,” Kaylor-Palmer said. “Any time we’re in a tough spot, she’s the type of kid we want to go to and she’s the type that we depend on.”
Delaware continues league play Thursday night when it hosts Dublin Jerome at 7 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.