Enochs High School led 2-1 in its Modesto Metro Conference volleyball showdown at Gregori on Tuesday but trailed 21-13 in the fourth game with a fifth game a virtual certainty.
The Eagles would eventually lose the fourth game by three points, but it was that late run that helped propel them to a 25-19, 25-27, 28-26, 22-25, 15-10 victory in this matchup of undefeated Modesto Metro Conference teams.
So how important to Enochs was that surge in game 4?
“It was really important,” said Eagles coach Cathi Varni, whose team improved to 13-5 overall and 6-0 in the MMC. “Our girls haven’t really been tested in league. To know that we could come back from a large deficit – even though we eventually lost the game – was huge.”
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Also huge for Enochs was Jessica Gilbert. The senior hitter finished with 19 kills, including five in the decisive fifth game.
“We were a little tense in the beginning,” Gilbert said. “But we eventually opened up and played our game, and that helped us get the W in the end.”
Enochs entered with an eight-match winning streak and hadn’t dropped a game in nearly a month (a 3-1 win over Kimball on Sept. 9). Gregori had won four in a row and hadn’t dropped a game in nearly a month (a 3-0 loss to Atwater on Sept. 11).
While Varni saw the fourth game as an important swing in momentum, Jaguars coach Dave Winfrey viewed it as just another run in a match of runs.
“The entire game was a match of runs,” said Winfrey, whose Jags have won at least a share of the past three MMC titles. “They got a nice run to start game 5, the short game. But we basically played with them point for point; we just didn’t get a chance to get our run in the fifth game. Those are the dynamics of the game.”
Gregori (11-5, 4-1 MMC) trailed 24-11 in the opener before eight straight service points from Jenna Tobin made it 24-19. Tobin was only able to stave off the inevitable, and the Eagles took the game on the next point. The next two games were, as Winfrey described, point for point, with Enochs taking a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth game, with the Jags holding an eight-point lead, senior setter Ashley Maki delivered seven consecutive service winners for Enochs, cutting the margin to 21-20. The Jaguars finally put away the game on an ace by Alexis Rios.
That set the stage for the deciding game, which Gilbert dominated.
“We just came out there with the mentality that we wanted to win,” Gilbert said. “And I just tried to help my team as much as possible.”