It was the best showing Ravenwood volleyball coach Abbey West said her team has had against Brentwood in her three years leading the Lady Raptors, but it still wasn’t enough on Tuesday.
Despite winning the first two sets on the road against the six-time defending Class AAA champion Lady Bruins 25-19, 25-21, Ravenwood dropped a five-set stunner as Brentwood regrouped and surged in the next three games 25-17, 25-15, 15-11.
Juniors Shaye Eggleston and Rylie Kael led the Lady Bruins attack each producing a double-double as the home team absorbed Ravenwood’s best and rallied back to win a 13th consecutive match and improve to 15-2 overall and 2-0 in district play.
“This just feels awesome,” said Kael, who collected 14 kills and 17 digs in the thrilling comeback. “We know we are the team to beat and we are fighting to stay on top, so after those two losses, that drove us and we came together.”
Eggleston notched 24 kills and 10 digs, while Haley Sanders scooped up 20 digs and Piper Drazek set 46 assists.
Senior Camille Spencer sizzled in her opening attacks in the first two games and closed with a match-best 30 kills and 11 digs to lead Ravenwood.
The rich rivalry includes state championship meetings three times in the last seven seasons. The last team to dethrone the Lady Bruins – who have matched a state record with six consecutive state titles – was Ravenwood when the Lady Raptors strung together three straight titles in 2010-12, including a five-set win for the 2012 championship against Brentwood.
“I’m proud of my team, I just think at the end our inexperience showed, but we just have to continue to learn and continue to get better,” said West, whose Lady Raptors suffered just their second loss.
The two teams traded blows early with Spencer emerging as a force from all over the floor. She notched back-to-back kills to force a 14-14 tie in the first set, including skying for a slam in the middle on a high set from Carly Cooper (30 assists, 16 digs) that went over the Brentwood block. Freshman Reagan Larkin and junior Abby Burton combined for a block and Larkin came through with another solo stuff as Ravenwood took a 16-14 lead. That edge stretched to four, but Eggleston notched a couple kills to make it 20-18 before the Lady Raptors buckled down for the finish.
Larkin served the final five points and Spencer slammed home back-to-back kills to end the set. She was perfect on her attacks through the first game.
Brentwood built a 14-10 lead on an Eggleston tip, but surged ahead on a 13-4 run for the eventual 25-21 victory and 2-0 lead.
West said a small turning point in the third game occurred when her court leader Cooper exited briefly to fix one of her knee pads. Tied at 14-14, Brentwood broke loose for four straight points and the Lady Raptors never recovered in a 25-17 setback.
“There was something there that was a major momentum shift,” West said. “I feel like we just couldn’t get back into it.
“There’s a ton of pressure there. You know, it’s one thing to perform a skill and be in the match when there’s no pressure, but it’s a whole other thing when that pressure from this kind of match is bearing down on you. It gets in your head and that’s a major thing our younger kids are trying to work through.”
The home team pounced in the fourth set and led 10-3 on a Zoe Oldham kill. The biggest lead of the set came when Sanders served an ace for a 22-10 advantage. Another Eggleston ace – one of 12 in the match for the Lady Bruins – ended the game and sent the match into the fifth set where veteran coach Barbara Campbell dug up recent state rankings to further inspire her team.
“Once it got to 2-2, I just reminded the girls that Ravenwood was ranked No. 1 in the state and that just kind of made them go nuts,” she said. “I said if you beat them, you know where that puts you. It was just a great match.”
The Lady Bruins gained some separation early in the deciding set, taking a 7-4 edge when Kael scored a kill down the left side resulting in West calling timeout. Ravenwood managed the next point, but Brentwood’s momentum continued to build and sophomore Hollye Tate made it 9-5 with big block on the left side. West called another timeout, but the lead stretched to as many as six.
“We needed to step it up and we just came together in the end,” Kael said.
Campbell admitted to asking for additional help as well.
“I was talking to my brother,” she said with a smile. “My brother is up in heaven, but I was like, ‘OK, you have to come down here and help us out here.’”
Drazek set over her head to Mary Oldham, who slipped a kill over the block by swinging to the right side from the middle to provide match point for the home team. Eggleston provided the exclamation point with a thundering hit over the block on the left side to clinch the match.
“This feels great,” Kael said. Her teammates and some of the Brentwood faithful soaked in the win on the court afterward. "We have a target on our back. We are on top and it's hard to stay there when everyone is trying to beat you and excited to beat you.
"We came together in this game."
The Lady Bruins travel to Centennial Thursday. Ravenwood faces the Lady Cougars Wednesday.