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Eagles knock off Quasars in five

OKABENA -- Kelsey Van Dyke and Brianna Spronk came up with big plays at the net Thursday night, leading the Southwest Christian volleyball team past Southwest Star Concept in a five-game thriller featuring two Red Rock Conference titans, 20-25, 25-19, 25-22, 18-25, 15-12.

Both teams were undefeated in league action entering the match, and SWC (6-0, 11-4) remains tied with Murray County Central for the top spot in the standings. SSC (5-1, 5-6) is now a game behind the leaders, as are the Adrian Dragons.

"This was a key victory on the road against a very good team," SWC head coach Dan Broekhuis said following the match. "Our height at the net helped us in some critical moments throughout the match."

With the match tied at 2-2, the teams traded point-for-point to begin Game 5. SSC gained an 8-6 lead after back-to-back kills from Katherine Kazemba (25 digs, seven kills, 17-for-18 serving with nine points and three aces).

SWC rallied back to gain a 9-8 edge on the strength of two kills by Van Dyke (17 kills, 17 digs, six blocks) and a point off a blast from Jada Vander Veen.

Later, with the score knotted at 11-apiece, the Eagles scored two straight to go up 13-11. Spronk (eight kills, eight blocks) had an ace block for the second of those points.

After a SSC timeout, Michelle Olsem came up with one of her four ace blocks to make it 13-12. However, another ace block by Spronk, followed by a point when Katie Vermeer and Kayla Broekhuis (19 set assists, 14 service points) combined on a block, gave the Eagles the three-point victory to win the match.

"We competed well tonight, but the Eagles made a few more plays down the stretch, and that was the difference in the match," SSC head coach Rick Haberman said. "The atmosphere was great for this match, as the fans were great and helped make it a fun event to be a part of."

SSC got the game started with a Game 1 victory, as the Quasars -- fueled by two kills from Sydney Place (20 digs, four kills, 14-for-14 serving) and an ace serve apiece from Kazemba and Erika Post (five kills, two ace blocks, 14-for-15 serving with eight points) -- built an early 5-1 lead.

The Quasars stretched the lead to 12-4 after Maddie Collin had an ace block, and Elizabeth Paul (20 digs, 20-for-22 serving with 13 points) served an ace to cap a 7-3 run.

SWC came back to within two at 18-16 after Angie Vermeer (18 digs, 10 service points) served an ace, and Spronk put down four kills and had an ace block during the Eagles' surge.

The Quasars closed out the victory, though, when Chelsey Cranston (17 set assists, 16-for-17 with 10 points) had a dump kill to cap a 7-4 run.

Sparked by two kills from Van Dyke, the Eagles jumped out to a 5-1 lead in Game 2. Angie Vermeer had a trio of kills to help SWC extend the lead to 16-7.

SSC did come back to within five (24-19), as Paul scored a point after a nice dig and served an ace, but the Eagles sealed the victory to tie the match at a game-apiece.

Game 3 was tight in the early stages before Van Dyke had two straight kills to trigger the Eagles to a 14-10 lead.

Adri Rasche (six kills, five ace blocks) had a pair of kills, and Place had an ace block to keep the Quasars close, trailing 16-14.

SSC then outscored the Eagles 8-6 to tie the game at 22-each, as Post had a kill and an ace serve to key the Quasars.

However, a point off a blast from Vander Veen followed by a Van Dyke kill, helped seal the victory for the Eagles -- giving them a 2-1 match advantage.

The Quasars broke an 8-8 tie in Game 4 by going on a 9-2 burst, producing a 17-10 lead. Kazemba's two points (kill and ace serve) ignited SSC during that span, as did Cranston's ace serve and Rasche's kill.

SWC came back to make it a two-point game at 19-17, as Angie Vermeer produced a pair of points with a kill and an ace block to aid the Eagles.

SSC scored six of the final seven points to tie the match at 2-2, as Luanna Henkels (11 set assists, 14-for-14 serving with six points) had a dump kill to help seal the victory and set up the decisive Game 5.

Emily Prins had 18 set assists for the Eagles, who host ML/B-O Tuesday.

SSC plays at the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton tournament Saturday.