Clay Archer, Contributor
PIKETON — Coming into Tuesday’s match at Piketon, Paint Valley hadn’t won a game in SVC play since Sept. 19, 2013 … a sweep of Southeastern.
The Bearcats entered the day standing at 1-85 in the SVC over the past seven seasons, including their first two matches this fall. And, after allowing the Redstreaks to win the first two sets Tuesday, it looked like it would be 1-86.
But fate had different plans.
Paint Valley rallied, winning the next three sets and snapping the lengthy losing streak by a 22-25, 16-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-6 final.
“It’s exciting,” Paint Valley coach Angela Jackson said. “For our girls, it’s been sort of a mental block. Last year, they did things at the district and sectional level, but it still hadn’t kicked in how much potential they had. This a big, monumental step for them.”
And, as mentioned, the win certainly wasn’t given. It was earned.
After Paint Valley (4-3, 1-2 SVC) gave the Redstreaks a bit of a battle in the first set, Piketon dominated the second, winning 25-16 and closing the game on an 11-3 run.
“Sometimes, I wonder if they like to do it,” Jackson said, smiling. “They go on this roller coaster and they learn that with the highs, you have to stay high, and with the lows, you have to grind back to the highs.”
When it looked to be the same old song and dance in the third, the Bearcats showed their claws and went to battle.
After Piketon jumped out to a 5-3 lead, Paint Valley went on a 6-3 run to take a 9-8 lead. Piketon then went ahead 13-11, but the Bearcats quickly retook the lead at 14-13. From that point, they never trailed in a 25-23 win.
In the fourth, Paint Valley jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead. Piketon responded, cutting the lead to 12-10 and eventually tying the game, 14-14.
After ties at 14,15,16, and 17, the Bearcats went on a 3-0 run with Olivia Smith at the service line. That was enough to help secure a 25-20 win, forcing a fifth set.
In the final set, Piketon jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Bearcats responded with an 8-0 run behind sophomore Abbi Stanforth at the service line and never looked back in a streak-busting 15-6 victory.
Stanforth ended with three kills, 26 digs and nine aces while Smith posted 19 kills and 11 digs. Kaitlin Potts had seven kills, Averi McFadden added four kills, 15 digs and 26 assists, and Bailey Brumfield ended with 26 digs.
“It’s been a huge goal for awhile now and it’s a huge honor to be on the team that ended the streak because nobody expected it out of us,” Stanforth said postgame.
Smith echoed those sentiments.
“It’s been a huge goal of mine because my sister wasn’t on a team that could experience that. I’m just glad I could be on the team that does,” she said.
The Bearcats are back in action Thursday, traveling to Zane Trace.
“We have to keep pushing, we have to keep diving on the floor. I’m just very proud of my team,” Stanforth said. “We always came together after every play whether we won the play or lost the play. We always support each other.”