HUBBARD - The farewell tour of Lakeview High School volleyball coach Scott Taylor made a momentous stop Monday.
The Bulldogs traveled to Hubbard to play their arch rival, and like so many other matchups between these two, it was full of tense moments.
Lakeview narrowly won the first two sets and held off a valiant Eagles comeback in the third set to earn a rare sweep of Hubbard, 25-22, 26-24, 25-23.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Lakeview’s Calli Schmitt (9) goes up for the block on Hubbard’s Caitlin O’Hara during their match on Monday night. Lakeview swept Hubbard, 3-0.
When asked how it felt to beat a team that's "kind of a rival," Taylor's eyes widened and he corrected the reporter's notation.
"Kind of a rival?," said Taylor, now in his 17th and final year coaching. "It's been a rival since I arrived at Lakeview. (Former Hubbard coach) Chuck (Montgomery) and I had some monumental battles. He retired a couple years ago. (Hubbard coach) Jeremy (Porter) and I are good friends and good rivals. On the court we play hard, and off the court we're great friends."
The coaches and players, many of whom are good friends because of club teams, put their companionship aside Monday in Hubbard.
The Eagles (6-3) took an 18-13 lead in the first set, but Lakeview (7-3) fought back, scoring seven of the next eight points, to take a 20-19 lead. Hubbard moved to within 23-22, but the Bulldogs won a long volley that included several diving efforts from both sides to take the point and eventually the set, 25-22.
The second set, which was the key to the match, Taylor said, went a lot like the first one. Hubbard went up, 7-2, only to see the Bulldogs storm back and take a 12-11 lead. Lakeview led, 24-19, but the Eagles strung together five straight points, including a big block by KayLyn Garrett, to tie the set at 24. The Bulldogs didn't blink though, winning the next two points and the set, 26-24, on a hard-hit kill from Rachelle Calvin. The win was crucial for Lakeview.
"It pretty much decides the match," said Lakeview senior Calli Schmitt, who led the Bulldogs with nine kills, of the second set. "If you win (the first) two games, you're most likely going to win the third, just based on statistics. It was a hard game to win, but we pulled through."
Schmitt and the Bulldogs have pulled through a lot lately. Last weekend they won the Uniontown Lake Asics Volleyball Tournament, which included several Division I schools. Lakeview beat Hudson, a team Taylor said "took us to the woodshed" earlier in the season, in the championship game. The experience gained from those matches played a big role in the Bulldogs being able to come back from early deficits against Hubbard.
"It carries over to matches like this," Taylor said. "When things aren't going your way, you call on that memory. They have that in the back of their heads, and they just prevail. My girls know it's not over until it's over."
Apparently Hubbard knows the same thing. The Eagles were down, 20-6, in the third set, but scored 17 of the next 20 points to tie the match at 23.
"It made me nervous because I didn't want to go to a fourth set because all bets are off then," Taylor said. "This is such a game of momentum."
Once again, the Bulldogs came through late in the match to win the set, 25-23. The close losses were a bit frustrating for Porter, in his second year coaching Hubbard, but he said his girls are still developing.
"A few hustle plays here and there," said Porter of what decided the decisive second set. "They got 'em and we didn't. That's what happens in a 26-24 game. It's always a play or two that goes one team's way, and that's the difference.
"He's got a great group of seniors over there that have been playing a long time," he added. "They've been in a lot of tough matches. I think we're trying to get to that level a little bit. We need to mature and gain a little more experience."