The Davenport West volleyball team might have hit the cruise control a little too early against Davenport Central on Tuesday night.
The Falcons soared to a 2-0 lead on the Blue Devils only to see Central fight back and tie the match. But West had enough in the fifth game to snag the 25-12, 25-21, 20-25, 15-25, 15-10 win on Senior Night in Mississippi Athletic Conference action.
West (7-18, 3-5 MAC) used strong serving to keep the Blue Devils (7-17, 2-6) off balance in the first two games, recording eight aces. Central didn't help its cause by committing a combined 23 errors, many coming on illegal net infractions.
But the Blue Devils used a balanced attack at the net, along with West errors, to win the next two games to force the decisive fifth game. Falcons senior Morgan Ripperger said the team came together before the last game and decided it wasn't going to blow a 2-0 lead on Senior Night.
"Coach (Alyssa Berg) kind of gave us a pep talk and we were like, 'Guys, we've got to come out and do this, we've got to do this for everyone,'" Ripperger said. "I think during the third and fourth game, we were mentally not there, so we committed a lot of errors. I think when we are up and thinking positive, we play a lot better."
Ripperger said the Falcons had a lot of energy from Senior Night and played well early on, but added after grabbing the commanding lead, they may have started to coast.
"I think during the third game we were like 'Oh, we are up 2-0'. You can't do that," she said.
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Ripperger was a big reason the Falcons were finally able to put the Blue Devils away. She served four consecutive points to break a 6-6 tie and forced Central to burn its final timeout. Emily Tunis was also pivotal for West, putting down three kills out of those four points. The Blue Devils would not get closer.
Berg, who said her team just needed some fire and enthusiasm before the last game, said she was happy with the the win but wants more consistent play out of her team in the final two weeks of the season. The Falcons and Blue Devils meet in the first round of the playoffs on Oct. 28.
"I want to see a full game, start to finish, of consistency," Berg said. "We did really well (last weekend at a tournament) with consistency but that was two out of three. We just need to finish matches off."
Tadaisha Thornton led Central with 16 kills and was a big reason the Blue Devils were able to rally. Raegen Menke, Jalynn Roberts, Gabi George and Tanasha Atwater's effort at the net nearly helped pull off the comeback.
But the Blue Devils dug themselves in too deep of a hole.
"It's kind of been our M.O. all season — we play terrible the first two games, then we come back the third, fourth and fifth game and start to play like a team," Central coach Amber Hall said. "We just need better starts."