North Platte was on the verge of collapse in the fifth set against Ogallala on Tuesday until Sami Mauch made kills on each of the last two plays to save the Lady Bulldogs and give them a 23-25, 25-21, 25-20, 24-26, 16-14 victory at the Dawg House.In the first set, Ogallala (3-4) got out to an 11-6 lead after scoring five straight points with Lily Fair serving. NPHS (5-9) came back and pulled to within 14-12 but the Lady Indians rallied again to take a lead of 19-13. Peyton Negley then made a kill for the Bulldogs and that led to a four-point run served by Mauch and the Ogallala lead was down to one.
The Lady Dawgs were able to tie at 20 when Negley and Kaitlyn Hansen combined for a block. But the Indians won the next three points and they kept the lead until they finished the first set.
"We just didn't get off to a really good start and it's really important with this group of girls to get off to a good start and set the tone," NPHS coach Laura Miller said.
North Platte took the early advantage in the second set with a 14-9 lead after Gabby Menghini made a kill on the left side. But the Lady Indians were able to pull within 15-14 after a kill by Emma Krab.
Both teams battled until the Bulldogs went up 21-18 with Negley serving for an ace that ricocheted off the tape of the net. From there, NPHS was able to hang on and even up the match.
"In that second set, we took care of business all the way around," Miller said. "We were doing what we wanted to do as far as gameplan goes and we got off to a good start. We played a good set from start to finish."
In the third set, North Platte pulled away late by taking a 20-16 lead before gaining the upper hand in the match.
"Third one, we started just a little bit slow but they came around, took control and I think we got in their heads a little bit," Miller said.
After going up two sets to one, the Lady Bulldogs were in prime position to win late in the fourth set. Mauch made a kill in the middle to give them matchpoint at 24-22. But Ogallala won the next two points to tie. Then Cassie Coggins made a kill on the left side to give the Indians setpoint and on the following play, Negley hit the ball into the net to send it to a deciding fifth set.
"We had opportunities but we didn't take care of them so that's an area we need to still work on," Miller said.
The fifth couldn't have started better for the Lady Dawgs. They scored the first three points and the lead grew to 12-5 after Negley and Hansen made back to back kills.
But Ogallala came back with a vengeance. They won the serve on the next play and then they ran off four straight with Fair serving until Abby McNew-Baker got a kill on the right side for NPHS to make it 13-9.
That was just a speedbump for the Lady Indians. Ogallala won the next three points to pull within 13-12.
The Bulldogs got another matchpoint when Menghini made a kill on the left side. But like the others before, the Indians fought that one off and then they tied it with an ace by Maddie Mendoza.
But Mauch gave North Platte the lead again with a kill on the left side and on the following play, she ended it with a shot again from the left that landed in on the opposite side.
Mauch said she knew she would have to play her best against an Ogallala team that was motivated to beat them after the Lady Bulldogs swept them on Aug. 31 and in the last set, she wanted to be the one to bury them.
"We've been preparing for this the last two weeks, ever since we played them the first time because we knew they would be back for revenge," she said. "We thought we had it in the fourth set but we came in really confident in the fifth set and I was like, 'Give me the ball. I know I can put this down.' "
Miller said anytime North Platte plays Ogallala, it's always a battle until the bitter end.
"We had them down quite a ways in that fifth set and we let them back in," she said. "They're a good team and they know how to win and they did everything in their power to get the job done. I'm just really excited that we came out on top."