University volleyball coach Mike Summers knew emotions would greatly affect Thursday’s home match with Central Valley.
His Titans fed off the crowd and harvested those emotions for their biggest win of the Greater Spokane League season.
Junior outside hitter Sydney Schlect collected match highs of 19 kills and 20 digs as the Titans (4-0) roared back for a 21-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-16, 15-12 win over the Bears (3-1) to take over first place alone. Mead (3-0) will attempt to tie U-Hi tonight at Shadle Park (2-1).
U-Hi returned to athletics after a sorrowful week in which two of its students died and another was injured in an automobile accident. The Titans wore T-shirts in remembrance of their fellow students, and both teams shared a moment of silence at center court before the match.
“We love each other and we were united after such a tragedy,” Schlect said. “I thought, ‘If we just play our best, as we know how to, we could win this.’ ”
“The girls knew that with their emotions the fans would help carry them through, the good and the bad, and I think they just relied on that,” Summers said.
CV entered as the second-ranked 4A team in the Washington Coaches’ Poll, while the Titans were ranked third, just ahead of Shadle, among 3A teams.
U-Hi led the first game 13-12 before the Bears started dominating at the net behind senior Alaina Gentili and junior Kazlyn Roullier. Summers took timeout after an 8-3 run gave CV a 20-16 lead, but junior Kara Nitteberg and Gentili ended the game with kills.
The first game was tied eight times, but the second was even more back-and-forth, with 11 ties. Nitteberg and junior Sasha Montgomery had at least four kills apiece in the game, and a late 5-0 run put the Bears in charge.
“Our passing in the first two games was really iffy and then we pulled it together in the last three,” Titans sophomore Kendall Collins said.
“I thought we made a lot of unforced errors in the first two games and I felt like we gave them the first two games,” Summers said. “We just asked the girls to dig down and make (CV) beat them in the third set.”
Junior Brooklyn Tacke and Schlect had key kills as the Titans took charge in the third game with a 5-0 run for an 8-3 lead. U-Hi pulled away on Collins’ back-to-back kills and an ace by junior Sarah Carpenter.
“In that third game, about halfway through, you could tell the momentum was turning,” Summers said.
Titans sophomore Daryn Griffith had two kills and a block during a 12-0 fourth-game run for a 14-2 lead. CV had a small flurry near the end of the game, but Griffith’s kill capped the game.
U-Hi never trailed in the final game. Tacke had a crucial kill for a 14-12 lead after CV scored five straight points.
• Also in the GSL, Mt. Spokane (1-3) posted a 3-0 sweep over visiting Ferris (2-2). Paiton Larson had 25 assists and Libby Pittenger added 12 kills and two aces for the Wildcats. For Ferris, Lauren Reid had six kills and four blocks, and Shaelyn Pearson added nine kills and three aces. … Joslyn Bopray had 13 digs, 11 blocks, eight kills and four aces in leading host Lewis and Clark (1-3) to a 3-2 win over Rogers (1-3). LC’s Grace Woodard added 24 assists for LC. Mikayla Risinger had 37 assists for the Pirates.