ALLENTOWN — There was some district tournament magic for the Laurel Hill volleyball team Monday.
The Hoboes, who had struggled in district play during the regular season going winless in eight tries, finally got a victory when it counted the most.
Laurel Hill, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, battled host Central, the No. 4 seed for five sets and beyond, In the end it was the Hoboes coming out on top with a 3-2 win to advance to the tournament semifinals against top-seeded Baker. The set scores were 25-21, 19-25, 15-25, 25-19, 19-17.
“This was our first district win of the year,” Hobo coach Ashley Miller said. “I think, at the beginning of the year we weren’t capable of doing that in a match after we fell behind.
“I can’t believe we did it. But it was because of the drive of the players and the way the have bought into what we are trying to do and how they have come together as a team.”
Nothing came easy for Hoboes (8-11) against a Jaguar team defending its home court.
The teams battled back-and-forth in the early points of the first set. Central built an early 6-2 lead, but Ashley Hatfield and Nichole Bailey led a Hobo run of seven unanswered points to give Laurel Hill the lead at 9-6.
Eighth-grader Kaylee L’Homme started the rally with a kill that forced a side out and put Hatfield in serve. But Central came back and led 19-16 after an ace by Dana Blackmon. The rest of the set belong to the Hoboes as they went on a 9-2 run to close out the set.
Sets two and three belonged to the Jaguars as they took a lead early in each set and pulled away to win.
The Hoboes were down, but not out as they came on strong in the fourth set behind the serving of Breanna Trunk. Trunk took over in serve with the set tied 9-9. Laurel Hill then scored seven straight points behind the serving of Trunk to build a 16-9 lead and put the set out of reach.
With the season hanging in the balance the fifth set didn’t start well for the Hoboes as Central led 6-2 early and stretched the lead to 9-4. Needing just six points to win, the Jaguars seemed to have Laurel Hill on the ropes.
With the Hoboes on the brink of elimination, Miller called time out to slow the Central run and rally her team.
The timeout worked as Laurel Hill scored the next six points to move in front 10-9. Lauren Gordon was in serve during the Hobo rally and recorded a pair of aces during the run.
It soon became obvious that the fifth set, which normally is won by the first team to 15 points, was headed to overtime as neither team could get the 2-point lead needed to win.
The set was tied at 14-14, 15-15, 16-16 and 17-17.
A point by Bailey put the Hoboes up 18-17 and gave them the serve. Gordon then stepped to the line and delivered the game winner to send Laurel Hill to the semifinals.