LISBON - Kayla Manz knew her team had been in this position before.
Mathews' volleyball rallied during a Northeastern Athletic Conference match with Pymatuning Valley earlier this season.
That's why the Mathews senior didn't get flustered, nor did her Mustang teammates, being down two games to none to the fifth-seeded Wellsville Tigers.
She was very vocal during the abbreviated break between the second and third games.
"We said we need to bring our heart and determination because that's what we were lacking the first two," said Manz, whose team rallied to win Tuesday's Division IV district semifinal 3-2 - 19-25, 21-25, 25-16, 25-16, 15-12. "We didn't show anyone what we worked for."
Top-seeded Mathews now plays second-seeded Western Reserve, who beat fourth-seeded Jackson-Milton, 3-0 - 25-2, 25-16, 25-20. Claire Ferrando had 11 points and 25 points to pace Western Reserve.
The Mathews-Western Reserve district final starts at 7 p.m., Thursday at David Anderson High School.
"We have our work cut out for us," Mathews coach Hillary Allen said.
The Mustangs had their work cut out for them in the first two games. Just looking at the teams standing for the National Anthem was a good indicator. Mathews stood there at attention, barely moving, while the Wellsville team swaying rhythmically to every word and note blaring from the loud speaker system inside the George M. Nace Jr. Gymnasium.
Wellsville (15-10), which brought a raucous fan base peppered with students and other enthusiastic students clad in black and orange attire, seemed as if they were playing a home game.
The Tigers dominated the first two games after quickly quelling Mathews' 5-0 lead in the first game.
The Wellsville fan base, which drowned out the Mathews' base early on, cheered with every kill or Mathews' miscue and jeered at anything which didn't favor the Tigers.
However, Wellsville coach Dan McKinstry wasn't totally pleased with the Tigers' effort in those two games.
"We played more relaxed than they did," he said.
He knew Mathews (22-2) wasn't the top seed on a fluke. McKinstry was fully aware of the Mustangs' comeback ability.
Wellsville held on to a precarious 8-6 lead in Game 3 on a kill by Noelle Amato. From there, Mathews rallied with a five-point run. Brooke Pregibon and Megan O'Dell each had a pair of kills as the Mustangs took an 11-8 lead - a lead they didn't relinquish. Pregibon had 19 points, while O'Dell had 15 kills and 16 blocks.
"I knew they were going to play better and we didn't," McKinstry said. "They seized the momentum. In Games 3 and 4, we never scored more than one point a time in our rotation, which we did in (Games) 1 and 2. Then, they just worked harder than we did - plain and simple."
The once-boisterous Wellsville student section fell silent - giving way to the Mathews parents and students clad with black and white shirts located in clusters on both sides of the gymnasium.
Just like the vocal enthusiasm of their respective crowds - the teams seemingly followed suit.
Even Wellsville's Sarah Drysdale, who had 20 kills, was thwarted by many of Jonna Omerzo's 36 digs as Mathews held its ground in the final three games.
"The girls are extremely devoted and know what it takes," Allen said.
Manz, whose back was to the net, quickly flipped the ball over her head and net as it quickly dropped in front of the Wellsville defenders to secure the victory in Game 4.
Heading into the fifth game, Wellsville took a 9-6 lead as a kill attempt by Mathews went out of bounds. Considering Game 5 is settled when one team reaches 15 points, instead of the normal 25, the Mustangs had to quickly end the Tigers' surge.
Enter Manz, whose fist ball rolled over the net and dropped on the Wellsville side. It began an 8-0 Mathews run as the Mustangs were on the cusp winning the match, up 14-9.
Then, O'Dell's drop shot a couple points later secured the victory and sent the Mustangs to their first district final since 2005.
It was a three-game rally which Manz had trouble putting into words.
"I honestly don't know how to describe it," said Manz, who had 50 assists. "We kicked it into gear and got out of it.
"We learned from our mistakes in the first two games and made them up in the last three."