The sting of losing out on a chance at even a piece of the Northern Lakes League volleyball championship a few days earlier had an effect on 14th-ranked Springfield at the outset of Thursday's match at Anthony Wayne.
The Generals took advantage of a listless start by the Blue Devils and took the first two games in convincing fashion.
Faced with losing the match in three sets, Springfield responded with a furious rally to extend the contest to five games and toppled AW 19-25, 19-25, 25-22, 27-25, 15-11.
"It was a great game and it meant everything to us," Springfield coach McKenna Reitz said. "We just dug deep. We didn't play so well in the first two sets, but we proved that we wanted it.
"I think it's one of the most difficult things in volleyball, to lose the first two and come back. It proves that we wanted it that much more."
Despite Perrysburg being in the driver's seat for the NLL championship, the Blue Devils (16-3) and Generals (14-6) were competing for second place in the league. The win practically secured second place in the NLL while also helping their cause to earn a higher seed for the upcoming Division I sectional.
Michelle Asiedu provided the spark with her intense play in the middle of the Blue Devils attack. She recorded a team-high 20 kills and her energy on the court appeared to ignite Springfield's late rally.
Meredith Shank and Gabby Teifke provideed 11 kills apiece for Springfield. Jaidyn Patridge recorded 13 digs while Ashley Nuding and Libby Mathewson chipped in 11 digs apiece.
There wasn't any secret adjustment made by the Blue Devils after AW took the first two games. Reitz and her coaching staff didn't even say much to the Blue Devils going into the third game.
The Blue Devils knew what was necessary to get by one of their top NLL rivals.
"We just fought really hard," Asiedu said. "We never give up."
AW's Stephanie Olman delivered a strong performance that included recording a game-high 31 kills. Bridget Troiani came through with 13 kills and two blocks while Mary Louise McCormick delivered 61 assists.
The Generals didn't have an answer for slowing down the Blue Devils once they got going in the third game.
"It's very disappointing," AW coach Kelli Euler said. "When you're up 2-0 in the sets, you expect to win the match after you need to bring home one set.
"In the pressure situations we errored and we have to learn in pressure situations we can't do that. We can't make unforced errors and we have to capitalize on theirs."
Reitz recognized Asiedu's effort as key to the comeback.
"Michelle in the middle is a big threat ," she said. "She jumps really high and is able to get higher touches on the ball."
It was the Generals, led by Olman and Troiani at the net, that dictated play in the first half of the match. AW seemed headed for an upset of one of the state's top-ranked teams. Yet, the Blue Devils survived AW's early push in the match before bouncing back with a strong finish.
"We had more mental toughness and that was the big thing," Reitz said. "Volleyball is all about a mental game and we had a lot more intensity and we played a lot more disciplined defense."
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