Bulldogs escape with win over Canfield

CORTLAND – The Lakeview volleyball team found itself caught in the net of the dogcatcher, trailing visiting Canfield two games to none on Tuesday night.

Just as the cage door was ready to slam close, the Bulldogs fought free to outlast the Cardinals, 24-26, 20-25, 25-20, 25-19, 17-15, to take control in the race for the All-American Conference, Red Tier title.

“(My girls) snapped into reality,” Lakeview coach Heather Guthrie said. “They realized if they lost the game, their chance at the AAC title might not happen.

“It was really important (to win). (Canfield) is No. 2 right now (in the league) and we’re No. 1. We’re one and two for a reason. We’re both strong volleyball teams that work hard and love the sport.”

Lakeview (15-2, 2-0) coughed up a lead in the first game and staggered through the second game as Canfield tried to deliver the knockout blow. But a strong start in the third game opened a crack, through which the Bulldogs charged.

“I don’t think we were ever too low,” Lakeview hitter Annie Pavlansky said. “Canfield is a really great team. We focused on the things we could control. We played hard and with a lot of heart. We never gave up and we trusted each other.”

“Once Game 2 came along, we knew we had to start pushing,” Lakeview hitter Jensen Silbaugh said. “We couldn’t get out of it. We knew in Game 3 it was go time. It was in our heads that it was now or never.”

The Cardinals (13-3, 8-2) never regained control.

“The hardest part for me, as their coach, was the girls were giving absolutely everything they had,” Canfield coach Maria Householder said. “They still couldn’t pull out the victory. It’s hard for a coach when the girls go out and they work and they do everything you tell them to do and they’re not able to pull it out. It’s crushing.”

Lexi Inman’s block put the bulldogs ahead, 8-5, early in the fifth game, but consecutive kills from Natalie Maras and Morgan Cleevely followed by a Lakeview misplay had it knotted at 8-8. After trading points and the lead back and forth over the next 14 serves, Inman slammed home a kill to make it 16-15 and Silbaugh’s block closed the out the victory.

“I knew I had to put the ball down for the team,” Inman said. “I played for them. I knew my job was to end the game strong and get the kill for them.”

An ace from Inman and two kills from Silbaugh had Lakeview up, 5-1, to open the fourth game, but a block by Lara Quirk and an ace from Cleevely knotted it up, 10-10. Three straight errors by the Bulldogs gave the Cardinals a 13-10 lead.

Pavlansky’s kill and an ace from Silbaugh again tied it, this time at 15-15. Hayley Lytle threw in a pair of kills and Lakeview built a 21-16 lead. Consecutive kills from Inman sent the Bulldogs into the fifth game feeling good.

Blocks from Alex Romano and Leah Carlson erased the bad taste left in the Bulldogs’ mouths following losses in the first two games and had Lakeview up, 4-1, in the third game. Maddie Johns tied it at 5-5 with an ace, and it was again tied at 17-17 before a Cardinal miscue made it 18-17 in favor of the Bulldogs. Back-to-back kills from Inman and Silbaugh extended that advantage to 20-17 before Canfield gave away another point on an error.

The teams traded points the remainder of the way before Pavlansky gave Lakeview its first win with a kill.

“(Lakeview turned it around) at the beginning of Game 3 because they were four or five to nothing,” Householder said. “When the other team starts off a game like that, I told the girls you are trying to climb out of it the rest of the set.”

Following an ace from Lytle and a kill by Inman, Lakeview carried a 21-17 lead in the first game. Kills from Jessica Meissner and another from Alyssa Householder tied the score at 22-22. Householder’s block and Maras’ kill sent the Cardinals into the second game ahead in the match, 1-0.

Canfield built an 11-5 lead in the second game before Lakeview fought all the way back to within one, 18-17. Cleevely had a kill and a block to put the Cardinals in front, two games to none.