Samantha Rubal and Carrigan O’Reilly combined on a block on match point and, right after the ball hit the floor, Rubal turned to injured co-captain Ashlan Riley on the bench and began to cry.
Through four years of ups, downs and built up emotion, it all came to the surface as the Olentangy Orange girls volleyball team finally beat rival Olentangy.
“I’m just such a competitive person that I was just glaring across the net,” Rubal said. “I know half the girls on that (Olentangy) team, I’m friends with half the girls on that team, and I’m glaring at them because as an Orange volleyball player — as a Pioneer — I’ve always wanted to beat them because we’ve never done it before in school history.”
And now they’ve done it … and they did it in four sets on Olentangy’s home floor.
The Pioneers had never beaten Olentangy in eight previous attempts, an achievement Olentangy coach Michelle Mimna wore like a badge of honor.
“Yeah, it stinks because we take pride in that,” she said. “We talked about that, but you can’t talk your way into a victory. (Orange) certainly played the better match, without a doubt. This hurts.”
In fact, Orange had never beaten either of its district rivals. And things looked eerily similar to its match at Olentangy Liberty Sept. 6 when the Pioneers won the first two sets by identical 25-17 scores.
Orange (6-3, 3-1 OCC) won the first two sets at Liberty before falling in five.
Olentangy was poised to do the same as Liberty when it got solid performances out of Emily and Olivia Margolies in a 25-22 third-set victory.
“The Margolies twins are phenomenal players,” Orange coach Katie Duy said. “I think (Olentangy’s) momentum and their confidence really comes from those two getting involved. We were not doing a good enough job of getting them in uncomfortable situations.”
Olivia Margolies and Nhu Do got Olentangy off to a solid start in the fourth set, leading by as many as six points twice, including a 13-6 advantage.
But, like a security blanket, Rubal came through with a couple of kills at key points to help the Pioneers clawed back.
“I’ve coached (Rubal) for six years and I trust her,” Duy said. “I think her greatest asset is that she wants the ball when we’re down. She wants to put herself in that situation because she wants the pressure on her. Not that many kids do that.”
Emily Murphy’s ace tied it 17-17 and, after some back and forth, Sophie Dahn’s ace gave the Pioneers the lead for good.
Orange scored six of the final seven points in the fourth set to win it 25-21.
“Without Ashlan — our leader in kills — they all kind of stepped up and embraced their roles,” Duy said.
Rubal and Riley, who is out with a shoulder injury, have been through three coaches. The Pioneers didn’t get their first taste of winning until last season when they made it to the district semifinal round of the playoffs and finished 21-4 overall.
“This program has really come from the bottom,” Rubal said. “Ashlan and I have run with this program and we are all in with this program. We want what’s best for this program and what’s best for this team.”
“I think last year they truly didn’t believe they could win, but this group is buying in and everybody is getting on the same page,” Duy said.
Rubal had a game-high 19 kills and Sidney Reeder and Taylor Metzler had nine apiece.
Carrigan O’Reilly had a huge game with 36 assists and five blocks for Orange.
“(O’Reilly) just started setting last year, so she’s kind of just learning,” Duy said. “She’s such a student of the game — she takes feedback real well and she adjusts. As the season goes, she’s just going to get better.”
Olivia Margolies had nine kills and Do added seven and three blocks for Olentangy. Megan Cochran had 3.5 blocks.
Bobby Diamond had 12 assists and Gabby Trees added eight. Madyson Chitty led with 12 digs and Lexie Weithman added 11 for Olentangy (6-3, 3-1 OCC).
“I’m pretty happy with our season right now, but we’re young,” Mimna said. “I’m not upset about (losing). I’m upset that we were down 0-2 … (if you force a set five), you don’t have enough gas in the tank.”
Next up, Orange is one of eight teams that will play in the Rocky River Magnificat Volleyball Showcase Saturday. Meanwhile, Olentangy is off until it visits rival Liberty Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
Also: Buckeye Valley 3, River Valley 2; Liberty 3, Westerville Central 1.
Buckeye Valley picked up a solid non-league win Thursday, using a pair of second-half goals to parlay a 1-0 halftime lead into 3-1 win over visiting Central Crossing.
The Barons’ Megan Hon opened the scoring summary, finding the back of the net off a feed from Jillian Hon. Hanna Fenstermaker made it 2-0 early in the second half and, after the Comets’ Hallie Fryman scored to slice her team’s deficit in half, BV’s Chloe Aquino scored with less than a minute to play to add a little insurance.
Camryn Crawford anchored the Baron defense with four saves.
Also: Olentangy 5, New Albany 2; Liberty 5, Hilliard Davidson 1; Hilliard Darby 1, Big Walnut 0; Gahanna 2, Orange 1.
Hayes 1, Hamilton Township 0.
Buckeye Valley picked up a pair of singles wins and won at second doubles to notch a 3-2 win over visiting River Valley Thursday in Delaware.
BV winners included Robin Wilson (6-1, 6-1 at second singles), Fiona Tseng (6-4, 6-4 at third singles) and the duo of Alexis Margraff and Sabrina Mullins (6-0, 7-5 at second doubles).
Also: Grove City 4, Big Walnut 1; Orange 5, Wellington 0.
Orange 165, Hayes 194.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.