NEW MANCHESTER - Edison knocked Oak Glen from the ranks of the unbeaten.
The Wildcats rallied to win the first game, and Edison pulled away to win the second game en route to defeating the Golden Bears, 26-24, 25-17, in volleyball action Thursday night at the Oak Glen Fieldhouse.
Edison defeated Wellsville in the second match of the night, 25-19, 25-21.
Oak Glen defeated Wellsville in the final match of the night, 25-17, 25-9.
"I feel like I can breathe," Edison (11-3) head coach Leah Eft said. "It's been a rough couple of days. I haven't been myself the last two days. I have been on edge."
The Golden Bears, the two-time defending West Virginia Class AA state champions, started the year 17-0 and are in first
first place in the OVAC Class 4A standings. Edison entered the match coming off of a loss Saturday to Meadowbrook. The Colts are in second place in the Class 4A standings.
"Our passes were off, and our sets were down," Oak Glen (18-1) head coach Ethel Riser said. "Our passing game wasn't there. We didn't have good coverage. We didn't have any blocks in the first game, and we only had two blocks in the second game."
The Tigers dropped to 11-3 on the season.
Individually for Edison against Oak Glen, Caitlin Brenstuhl tallied three kills, one block, 20 assists, three digs and five points; Alexis Gill collected four kills, three blocks, one assist, one dig, three points and one ace; and Katelyn Pollock contributed nine kills, one block, four digs and two points.
Cassady Jarvis recorded 10 kills, three blocks, four points and one ace; Maddie Williamson delivered one kill, three digs and four points; and Kalee Neal netted five digs and six points. Kayleigh Westbrook chipped in with two digs, Mackenzie Berardinelli added one dig and Kim Wilson finished with one kill.
"That is quite an accomplishment," Eft said. "I knew how important this match was.
"I am so very proud of the flexibility and the adaptability our girls showed tonight. I pulled the rug out from under their feet. They showed they could handle it. They showed they could handle change."
For Oak Glen, Jessica Stivason netted four points, seven kills, two blocks and one dig; Morgan Poling produced five points, five kills and four digs; and Vanessa Hissam scored two points to go along with five kills and one dig.
Kenzie Rosenlieb recorded three points, 22 sets and three assists; Madison Juszczak added three points and two kills; and Carissa Williams contributed 38 sets and two assists. Kami Koper collected six digs, Alex Arnott tallied four kills and Emmy Delekta ended up with two spikes.
"They have some really nice hitters," Riser said. "Our girls play J.O. ball with their girls. They should know where they like to hit the ball. We did not cover. On defense, we did not cover the ball.
"They tripled-teamed Morgan. That hurt. We had to rely on other girls."
In the first game, the Golden Bears led the Wildcats by scores of 17-12 and 19-14. Edison used its second timeout of the game with Oak Glen leading, 21-18.
Later in the game, the Golden Bears led 23-20, but the Wildcats scored three-straight points to even the score at 23.
Oak Glen scored a point to go up 24-23, but Edison answered with a point of its own to even up the score.
Then, the Wildcats were able to block a hit by the Golden Bears resulting in a point for a 25-24 lead. Edison was able to finish out the first game on a tip by Pollock to take a 1-0 lead.
"The girls showed the ability to fight back," Eft said. "That is a credit to our six seniors and our veteran juniors. That is something that started happening this year. We didn't do that last year. Their resiliency paid off in a big way."
In the second game, a spike by Pollock put the Wildcats in front, 14-11. Edison's lead grew to 18-12, forcing Riser to call a timeout.
Back-to-back spikes by Pollock gave Edison a 20-14 advantage. The Golden Bears called another timeout with the score 22-14. The next point gave the girls from Jefferson County a 23-14 lead.
Oak Glen closed the gap to 23-17, but a hit sailed long, making the score 24-17. Edison ended the game and the match with the next point on Pollock's serve.
"She's a freak," Eft said about Pollock. "She is a great athlete. I can't coach that. That is all her. There is nothing I do. It is all her."
For the Wildcats against the Tigers, Brenstuhl collected three kills, two blocks, 18 assists, six points and three aces; Pollock picked up eight kills, three digs, six points and one ace; and Jarvis recorded seven kills, three blocks, one point and one ace.
Williamson netted one kill, one dig, seven points and three aces; Gill tallied three kills, six points and one ace; and Neal ended up with one assist and four digs. Berardinelli delivered two digs.
For Wellsville, Jayla Martin contributed eight kills and Shayna Hamilton allied 15 assists.
"We had to make changes to become more consistent," Eft said. "Through the course of the season so far, I realized it is something we had to do. We had to make changes to be more consistent.
"With the changes, the girls showed they could regroup. They showed they could get back up."
For the Golden Bears against the Tigers, Poling collected three points, 12 kills, two blocks and two digs; Stivason ended up with six points, two aces, one kill, three blocks and four digs; and Juszczak tallied seven points, eight kills, one block and four digs.
Rosenlieb recorded three points, one ace, three sets, one assist and three digs; Williams scored 14 points to go along with four aces, 37 sets and 11 assists; and Delekta delivered two points, two assists and one dig. Hissam had six kills and four digs, Arnott and Taylor Allison each had a kill.
For Wellsville, Brittney Clendenning contributed three kills, and Martin netted five kills.
"I hadn't seen them play," Riser said. "They looked tougher against Edison. I thought it was going to be another tough match, but it didn't turn out to be. I thought it was going to be a back-and-forth match.
"Our passing game was on. Our sets were up. Our balls were down.
"I think Morgan Poling had more than 10 kills in the second game. When she is able to hit the ball, that makes a big difference.
"In the second game, we blocked and we covered the floor. We looked 100 percent like a totally different team.
"One of the parents said it is better to lose now than at the end of the year. Our girls were focused against Wellsville. They looked like a different team."
Eft said she has a lot of respect for Riser and her program.
"I'm not sure how she does it every year," she said. "I'm not the only coach to say that. She is just so calm. They have a solid program. It feels very good to be able to steal one from them.
"I scouted them on Monday. They are very athletic. They have three girls who are very athletic. I was concerned. As a coach, you are concerned when you play a team that is so athletic. They are like super beasts."
The Golden Bears and Wildcats will play each other Thursday at Edison.
"We won one, so maybe we can start another winning streak," Riser said. "Maybe we can win another 17 in a row."
Edison's next match is Monday at Martins Ferry. Oak Glen plays Monday at home against Indian Creek. Wellsville plays Tuesday at home against Western Reserve. The Blue Devils and Tigers are tied atop the standings of the ITCL Lower Tier with records of 6-1.
"I was very proud of the girls tonight," Eft said. "They came back from a tough loss on Saturday to Meadowbrook and won three very tough games back to back. With all the negativity that surrounds losing, there was a chance these girls could have given up. They used the negatives as motivation to do better and played great ball this week. Oak Glen and Wellsville have great programs. It was great to leave with a couple more wins under our belt."
Indian Creek enters play Saturday having won nine-straight matches.
"It should be a good, competitive game," Riser said. "We like playing tougher competition. Playing better teams will make us a better team."