PENDLETON–The Arabians showed Wednesday night that they have come a long way in the last month.
The Alexandria-Monroe Tigers showed why they are the top ranked Class 2A team in the state.
In a rematch of the Madison County title match, won by the Tigers in two sets, Alexandria senior Megan Miller had 38 kills to lead her team to a come from behind five-set win, 23-25, 23-25, 26-24, 25-20, 15-9 over the Arabians.
Pendleton Heights (16-15) will close out their regular season Thursday evening at Connersville before facing the Spartans again in the sectional semifinal Saturday, October 14 at Greenfield-Central. Alexandria (23-5) closed out the regular season with their 22nd win in the last 24 matches.
The Arabians served notice immediately that this would be a different match than the last meeting between the two teams.
The Tigers committed 13 service errors in the first two sets and the Arabians took advantage. Two long service runs of seven points and eight points from sophomore Ally Hall, who finished with five aces, boosted Pendleton Heights to a two-set advantage.
“I think (Alexandria) came out a little flat, but they obviously improved after those first two sets,” Arabian coach Blair Barksdale said. “The biggest thing tonight was that we didn’t connect with our middles, I think they hit in a negative tonight. That isn’t the reason we lost, but that’s usually one of our strengths and it wasn’t working tonight.”
The Arabians led 10-6, early in the third set. But senior setter Mary Sayre began zeroing in on getting the ball to Miller, who pounded kill after kill, bringing the Tigers back. Eleven of her match-high 38 kills came in the pivotal third set comeback for Alexandria.
Once the momentum shifted to the Tigers, the Arabians could not get it back. After the early struggles, Alexandria committed just six service errors in the last three sets, including zero in the fifth set.
Despite the loss, Barksdale felt her team has come a long way this season.
“It still doesn’t feel good to be on the losing end,” Barksdale said. “We talk about it every day in the gym, making sure we get better every single day. That’s been our goal, whether it’s a win or loss.”
Senior Brinkley Gary, one of three playing their last home match for Pendleton Heights, shined with 17 kills. Michelle Merryman added four kills and an ace and Claire Goodwin had an ace.
“I wish I had a couple more years with Brinkley and Michelle,” Barksdale said. “Those two have really helped me build this program and laid a good foundation for what we’re trying to do here. They, and Claire, are a class that I’ll always remember.”
Sophomore Averi Lanman had 15 kills for the Arabians and sophomore Gracie King had nine kills and three blocks. Sophomore Macie Bell handed out 36 assists.
Senior Blaine Kelly added 20 kills for Alexandria and Sayre led all players with 53 assists.