BOARDMAN - The inevitable rematch between two of the top Division II volleyball teams in the state will happen, but the Field Falcons almost derailed the plan.
The Hubbard Eagles opened strong with a win in the first game but struggled in dealing with the Falcons' feisty defensive play before winning, 3-2, in a district semifinal match here Tuesday.
The Eagles will play the Salem Quakers at 6 p.m. Thursday for the district championship. The powers met in a regular-season game before a large crowd in Hubbard, with the Eagles getting the win.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Hubbard’s Haley Turner (22) goes to the net as Field’s Tabitha Murray goes for the block. To view or purchase copies of this photo or others, visit cu.tribtoday.com
There was nothing easy about the win over the Falcons, except the deciding fifth game when the Eagles scored the first five points on the way to a 15-6 edge.
"We did not overlook them," Hubbard coach Chuck Montgomery said. "They played extremely well. I was impressed with their desire to win. Field was unbelievable tonight. We played and played and played, and they were making every big play."
The Eagles will take a 25-0 record into the final. The Falcons ended the season with a 22-3 record.
The five-point run by the Eagles to start the fifth game was capped by a kill by senior Jackie Carlisle, who had a team-high 26. The Falcons reduced their deficit to 6-3, but the Eagles scored four unanswered points, including two more kills by Carlisle, to take a 10-3 lead.
"In the fifth game our seniors got together in the huddle and said, 'we're not going out of here,' " Montgomery said. "Our seniors really pulled together."
Senior Lexi Starheim played a solid all-around game for the Eagles. She had 12 kills, eight blocks, 12 service points and two aces. Junior Dawn Lingenfelter had 19 digs, and senior setter Marcy Angelo finished with 49 assists.
Montgomery wasn't pleased with the way the match was headed in the fourth game. The Eagles were up in games, 2-1, but the Falcons regrouped to win the fourth game, 25-14, forcing Montgomery to call two timeouts.
"I thought they were outplaying us," Montgomery said. "Things weren't going our way. We were hitting the ball two inches out, and they were hitting the ball two inches in. At the top of the net, theirs were falling in and ours were falling out. They came to play. You have to give Field a lot of credit."
Field coach Brenda Ward needed a little more production from the Falcons to get the win.
"We played with a lot of intensity, and we worked the last three days on lots of defense," Ward said. "I switched some things around to try to make our block a little stronger. Carlisle is a big hitter. I think we did a good job for four games, but she came alive in the last game. I don't know if we were tired, but we couldn't stop her that last game."
The Eagles appeared on their way to an easy win by taking the first game, 25-16. The Falcons showed their determination by winning the second game, 25-14.
Hubbard won game three, 25-20, but Field regrouped to have an impressive showing in the fourth game.
The Eagles won't have much time to celebrate the victory. The Quakers, who defeated the Southeast Pirates in the first game Tuesday, will present a stiff challenge.
"That's what we're here for to play Salem in the final," Montgomery said. "We've been here a number of times. I hope both teams come to play. It will be a great match."