BREESE — It was the kind of tense match filled with long rallies and spectacular digs and that you'd expect from these two volleyball super powers.
The Mater Dei Knights fought back after dropping the first game to beat the Central Cougars 25-27, 25-15, 25-23 Saturday.
"What more can you can ask for out of these girls on both sides of the net?'' Mater Dei coach Chad Rakers said. "Man, they're talented, they're very talented, and I'd like to think we are, too. We're going to go hard, they're going to go hard.''
It looked like the Knights might be going down to their first loss of the season after the Cougars pulled away from a 25-25 tie with a kill from Central's Mackenzie Jackson and a violation for four hits against Mater Dei in the first game.
"I was actually kind of worried for a second,'' Mater Dei senior outside hitter Tori Johnson said. "We just had to bring out our all. We weren't going to give up. Losing in two games wasn't an option, so we were going to go big or go home. We went big.''
The Knights were tied at 12-12 in the second game when they opened up a 17-12 lead on a service run by Taylor Luebbers.
Leading 20-15, Madison Haake reeled off a five-point service run that was capped by a block by Johnson to force a third game.
The Knights took a 16-10 lead in the third game after back-to-back aces by Luebbers.
The Cougars came back to tie the score at 22-22.
A tip by Avoynna Kampwerth put the Knights ahead 23-22, but an attack error by the Knights tied the score at 23-23.
A lifting violation by the Cougars brought the Knights to match point, and a tip by Elle Gebke secured the victory.
The Knights had five players with four or more kills in the match.
Johnson, a 5-foot-8 senior outside hitter, led the way with 11 kills.
"She's our go-to kid most of the time, and I have to make sure they are trying to find her,'' Rakers said. "Our setters do a great job of moving it around.''
Gebke had six kills, Chloe Beckmann had five kills and Kampwerth and Lauren Donnewald each had four kills.
The Cougars fell to 9-3. They got nine kills from both Maddie Timmermann and Jackson.
The contrast in the Cougars' play in the second and third games compared to the first game left coach Jim Cook searching for answers.
"I don't know where it went, I have no idea,'' Cook said. "A lot of mistakes, then when we did battle back, we decide we are going to serve a ball out of bounds, we're not going to make a play on the net when we should have been be crunching the ball. We want to play around with it. You better take power to power, or you're in trouble, and that's what we got.''
The Knights are 17-0 in a season when many people didn't expect them to be as strong as past years.
"We just like to beat the odds,'' Johnson said.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.