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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Leo’s Maddie McDonald returns a serve from Woodlan while teammate Jen Timbrook looks on Tuesday night in Woodburn.

Warriors fight back vs. Lions to open ACAC

– Woodlan grabbed hold of the momentum against rival Leo and wouldn’t let go. The Warriors won 3-2, rallying from a 2-0 deficit on Tuesday.

Once the Warriors broke through in the third game, they seemed to get better in the 15-25, 19-25, 25-18, 25-18, 15-6 win, the ACAC opener for both teams.

“The first two were ugly,” Woodlan coach Lindsay Roth said. “We weren’t communicating, and I felt like only a few of our kids were really going out for every single ball.

“Between the second and third (games), I told them, ‘You have to make a change now.’ ”

The Warriors (7-1, 1-0 ACAC) got 20 kills from Burgundy Price and 18 kills from Tori Bontrager.

“Definitely our heart changed,” said Price, a future Purdue walk-on. “Our first two games were really rough, and we didn’t have any intensity and no one was talking. We started talking and getting excited and having energy, and that changed the whole aspect. And as they go down, we go up.”

The Warriors came out of a Lions timeout in the fifth game with a 6-4 advantage and quickly stretched the margin to 12-5.

Woodlan finished the match by scoring three of the next four points.

“They just played with an energy they hadn’t played in the first two,” Roth said. “We were just very complacent in the first two. That’s what really changed in the third, fourth and fifth. They didn’t guess on whose ball it was, they just went after it. Even if it was the wrong person’s ball, they still went for it.”

In the pivotal third game, Woodlan took control from the start. Showing a new assertiveness, the Warriors jumped out to a 7-1 advantage. Leo got to within 21-16 but no closer.

“We got aggressive,” Price said. “The more aggressive we were, the more points we scored.”

Leo (5-4, 0-1) was led by seven aces and 31 assists from Alyssa Gross. Kiersten Saxer added 11 kills.

“(Leo) is a good team, and they are going to get points and string them together,” Roth said. “That’s what good teams do. But good teams also fight back against that and stop those runs and play aggressive right back and be scrappy.”

While it was nice for the Warriors to get a good start in the race for an ACAC title, Roth cautioned that the win was simply the first step.

“We know what our conference holds, and we know every single game we have to come in playing our best,” she said.

“We can’t ever overlook anyone, and then you take the next one, and then you see where you are at the end of the season. Conference (championship) is very attainable, but you have to take it one step at a time.”