COVINGTON – Some games are won by skill, some by luck, and others by sheer grit and willpower. The Franklin Monroe Jets are certainly a skilled team, but they showed determination and a ‘refuse to lose’ attitude as they came from behind to win their semi-final match in the state tournament against Jackson Center. At one point they were down two sets to one but won the next two to advance to the district finals at Troy on Saturday. Scoring: 14-25, 25-21, 14-25, 25-16 and 16-14.
It was a total team effort. Jackson Center had an overall height advantage and took advantage of that by mounting a vigorous front line attack. The second line had to dig out some fierce spikes and they really had to extend themselves at times to make a play. The Jets front line was able to pick their spots and make some big plays too. Whether it was a push shot just over the blockers or a spike from the corner, the front line figured out a way to score.
The Jets got off a slow start. In the 1st set after leading briefly, they let Jackson go on an 8-0 run that they did not recover from. Coach Filbrun took 2 time outs but the team just didn’t get on track. But whatever was said in between sets made a difference. The Jets soared to an early lead in the next set. They were up 7-1 at one point. The Tigers did make a late charge to close within 1-point 21-20. But after a timeout, the Jets took control of the match. Stella Shellabarger got a kill as did Chloe Peters, Skylar Bauman scored an ace, and finally Belle Cable put the match away with a back row kill.
In the third set the Jets played even, but mistakes began to cost them. They had some bad serves and some poor plays that allowed Jackson Center to open a 18-11 lead. It was too high of a hill to overcome and the Jets fell 25-14.
The Jets fans followed the team to Covington for the match. Although they had been vocal throughout the match, the Jets bleachers roared in the last two sets. With their backs against the wall the team fed off of the energy from the loud crowd and went to work. Although the score was tied at one point, the team never fell behind as they methodically scored points in the fourth set. The Tigers made a late run – scoring 5-points in a row, but Corina Conley put an end to the Tiger run with a kill and the Jets went on from there to out-score them 5-1 for the 25-16 win. Peters scored the game point on a kill.
The last set took a heroic effort to win. It only goes to 15 points for the win in a fifth set, so if you are down by five, that is a large margin to make up in a short time. And that was where the Jets found themselves down 6-11. The Tigers were really attacking the net during their charge. The Jets began chipping at the lead. Peters and Chloe McGlinch each had kills to get the Jets on track. Next Conley got a kill and then a block for a point and with McGlinch serving they pulled to within a point of the Tigers. There were several hard fought volleys during this stretch – the two teams really battled, but the Jets willed their way to a win after tying at 14 and then scoring the next 2-points.
“We worked hard, it was an up and down game”, stated Coach Angie Filbrun, “That last set we were down and we had to battle back and we did. I am so proud of them. We could not let up and we didn’t. We have some really good defensive players and we were able to hit it away from where they were. It was a full team effort.”
The team will play in the district final at Troy High School against Russia on Saturday October 26th at 4:30pm.