North Scott had its Mississippi Athletic Conference title hopes, more or less, dashed before the calendar flipped to September.
But after losses to Bettendorf and Pleasant Valley in the opening two weeks of the season, the Lancers have quietly worked their way up the league standings.
North Scott won its sixth consecutive MAC match and prevented Davenport Assumption from having an opportunity to get at least a share of the crown with a dramatic 20-25, 25-23, 25-14, 20-25, 16-14 triumph Tuesday night at Assumption High School.
"We've been thinking about this game pretty much since we lost to PV," senior Alexis Hayes said. "Our next goal was to take down Assumption because we knew they'd be toward the top of the MAC."
It has been a turnaround season in Eldridge.
The Lancers had not won more than 11 matches in each of the last four years, but they're 21-8, ranked ninth in the latest Class 4A state rankings and now tied for third in the MAC behind PV and Bettendorf.
Coach Allie Schwiebert's team has experience with Hayes, setter Hannah Grimm and libero Kendal Newman mixed with talented sophomores Kendall McNaull, Emma Powell and Grace Boffeli.
"We have all the pieces of the puzzle coming together this year," Schwiebert said.
North Scott has won three of its four weekend tournaments and this latest victory gives them some momentum with the postseason two weeks out.
Hayes had a match-high 25 kills and McNaull finished with 18. Grimm distributed 52 assists.
"I give North Scott a lot of credit for coming into a gym that's packed with emotions, in terms of senior night and being in enemy territory and having an overwhelming sense of wanting to win," Assumption coach Bre Scherler said. "I've been imploring our girls to get that feeling."
Assumption (22-8, 6-2 MAC) had several openings in the fifth set. It led 6-3, 10-8, 13-10 and even had match point at 14-13.
North Scott, Hayes in particular, had an answer each time.
She had four kills on North Scott's final five points.
After her final attack hit the ground, she and her teammates had to wait out a lengthy conversation between the officials to determine if the match was over.
Assumption contested there should have been a lift on a North Scott player earlier in the rally. North Scott claimed the player had a closed fist.
"I'm just thinking, 'Please give us the call,'" Hayes said. "I could have seen it go either way. It's such a tough situation to put the official in, but I was literally thinking, 'Please give us the call.' Pretty much begging."
Once the officials ruled it was North Scott's point, the celebration ensued.
"This group of girls just don't give up," Schwiebert said. "At the beginning of the season, we had to figure out if we were good or not. With some success in some weekend tournaments, the confidence comes back, the athletic ability and now our heads going with it, they know they can do it and won't give up."
Powell finished with 11 kills and 31 digs.
The Lancers had continual success feeding McNaull in the middle.
"The energy was there and the communication was there with the setter," McNaull said. "Tonight just showed we can come back from anything. The teamwork and energy were there. This was a big match for us to pull out."
Assumption, meanwhile, likely will need a win over PV on Monday to avoid falling out of the top three in the MAC.
Lindsay Stratman led the Knights with 24 kills but nobody else had more than seven. Carly King had a team-high eight blocks and Anna Corlett paced the defense with 33 digs.
"We really have to key in on our offense here in the next week or so," Scherler said. "We can't just have one person we fall back on offensively. We need everybody contributing equally and being a force at all positions across the net."