The Warren East volleyball team almost missed a chance to seal the deal. Almost.
After cruising to a first-set win Tuesday, the Lady Raiders (8-6, 2-2) scored six straight points to come from behind and beat visiting Warren Central in the second set, grinding out a 2-0 (25-13, 25-22) victory.
“I’m proud of the girls,” Warren East coach Brian Griffing said. “This is a big district win for us, and I’m tickled to death. They showed a lot of heart at the end there.”
That ending sequence included a 6-0 run by the Lady Raiders to close out the match, as they stormed back from a 22-19 deficit out of a timeout.
“I challenged them,” Griffing said. “I said, ‘I want to see what you all can do as a team. Let’s play to six and see what happens.’ They came together, and it’s getting better every day.”
Warren East had little problem handling the Lady Dragons (5-3, 0-2) in the first set, capitalizing on several miscues for a 25-13 win.
“They weren’t passing the ball as well as they can, and they had a lot of service errors where we took advantage,” Griffing said.
Warren Central coach Carry Brown agreed that the Lady Dragons weren’t themselves.
“They know they’re better than that, and I know they’re better than that,” Brown said. “A lot of it is mental and confidence. We have some young players, and as time goes, they’ll grow and gain more confidence.”
The second set turned out to be more competitive, with both teams swapping the lead throughout. After Warren Central took a 6-5 lead, the set was tied 11 times the rest of the way.
“In the first game, we started out a little bit slow, but we picked it up,” said Warren East senior Kara England, who finished with six kills and two blocks. “In the second game, we just had a few communication errors - just a few little things that we need to straighten out. But we looked pretty good tonight.”
The Lady Dragons took a 22-19 advantage - their largest lead of the set - on an ace by junior Tori Johnson, prompting Griffing to call the timeout that turned it all around.
The Lady Raiders got a kill from senior Hillary Harrington, and then senior Gabbi Ezell served all the way to the match win.
Sophomore setter Sheana Davis had 13 assists and three aces for Warren East. Harrington and Ezell had a combined nine kills, and recorded three aces apiece.
“The season’s had its ups and downs, but we’ve hit a patch where we’ve been bonding together,” England said. “We have good chemistry this year.”
Warren Central got seven kills from junior Melina Ramic, and junior Chasity Beckner had nine digs. Senior Nicole Whitson finished with five digs.
“It was disappointing,” Brown said of her team. “They only fought about 25 percent of the time in the first set, and they only fought about 60 percent in the second set. They’ve got to believe in themselves, and they’re lacking on that right now.
“It’s hard to win games if they’re not thinking about each play every time.”
Both teams will continue play in District 14 on Thursday. The Lady Raiders travel to South Warren, while Warren Central hosts Bowling Green.