ANKENY, Iowa—In one of the most entertaining matches of the year, the Faith Eagles fell just short in a five-set thriller against Emmaus Monday night.
Back and forth they went, both teams answering one big play with another. Long volleys were the norm, with hold-your-breath action all the way from the beginning to the end.
The Eagles won the first set in dramatic fashion, coming from behind to secure the win 26-24. The Eagles trailed 24-21 before they rattled off five straight points to take the set. Bekah Smith and Amanda Larson had two big kills in the comeback.
There were four ties and Faith rallied from a 23-18 deficit to nearly take the lead, but the effort fell just short as Emmaus tied the match at one apiece. Makenna Laib was terrific in set two, accounting for four service aces in the set.
The Eagles never trailed in set three, jumping to an early 11-4 advantage, thanks to some more great serving by Emmy Caves and Morgan Stephens. Bekah Smith, Rachel Kleczka, and Anissa Greiner each had kills late in the set to put the Eagles back in front 2-1.
Set four was just the opposite of set three, as Faith never led. Emmaus held a six-seven point advantage throughout most of it, and had the momentum heading into the deciding frame.
The fifth set was as pressure-packed as any set this season for the Eagles. It was back-and-forth with numerous terrific plays by both squads as they battled for the match win. Faith jumped to a 2-0 lead after a kill by Bekah Smith. Emmaus answered with two straight points to tie it at two. Back-to-back kills by Makenna Laib and Anissa Greiner put the Eagles back on top by two. Unfortunately, for the Eagles, it was the last lead they would hold, as Emmaus finished the match on a 12-8 run for the win.
The Eagles had some great individual performances, led by Bekah Smith with 10 kills, Anissa Greiner with 9 kills, and Alicia Smith with 8 kills. Morgan Stephens led the team with 18 assists, and Alicia Smith added 26 digs in the effort.
Faith continues a busy week of volleyball action tonight against Union College at the Johnson Wellness Center on the campus of Grand View University in Des Moines. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m.