Staff Photographer

Kearney High’s Lucy Bartee passes the ball during the Bearcats’ match Tuesday night with Lincoln East. The Spartans prevailed over the Bearcats in a five-set showdown.

KEARNEY — Kearney High dropped the first two sets and was in jeopardy of losing the third set to Lincoln East on Tuesday night.

The Bearcats overcome the two-set deficit, however, and forced a fifth set against the Spartans. They had match point in the decisive set but failed to close it out, losing a five-set loss to the Spartans, 23-25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-17, 15-17.

“I was really pleased with how we battled back in sets three and four and five,” KHS coach Jessica Day said. “It just didn’t go our way at the end there. I’m more concerned with what went on in games one and two. We are dealing with a consistency bug, and we have to get it figured out.”

In the fifth set, the Bearcats (12-10) led by as many as five points and even had match point, 14-13, after a Spartan service error. The Bearcats committed a hitting error, however, which prolonged the match and gave the Spartans a second chance.

The Bearcats received another chance with match point, 15-14, but Lincoln East’s Delaney Novy registered a kill. On the ensuing point, the Bearcats committed a hitting error, allowing the Spartans (11-12) a chance to win the match.

Annalee Ventling-Brown received a pass from setter Aleksey Betancur and sent an attack in between two Bearcat players for the match-winning point.

“It was a great battle between two teams,” Day said. “It was pretty evenly matched throughout, and they got the better of us at the end there.”

Throughout the first two sets, the Bearcats had little consistency offensively and featured suspect defense. After the first set began with 11 ties and 12 lead changes, the Spartans broke away after a Bearcat hitting error gave them a 14-13 advantage.

The Spartans won four consecutive points, but the Bearcats didn’t go away. The Bearcats cut the Spartans’ lead to one point on five different occasions, including 23-22 and 24-23, before dropping the set.

The second set also was competitive until the Spartans won four straight points to stretch their lead to 24-17, which marked the largest lead in the second.

It appeared the Spartans were going to sweep the Bearcats, holding an 18-13 advantage in the third set.

Trailing 22-19, the Bearcats started to regain their desired form. They won four of the next five points to even the set at 23-apiece and then received help from the Spartans, who had two hitting errors to close out the set.

The Bearcats’ energy and momentum carried over into the fourth. They led most of the set and eased to a 25-17 fourth-set victory to force the fifth set.

“I think they settled in,” Day said. “I think we were struggling a little bit offensively and had a lot of hitting errors in the first and second sets. I think they settled in better there, and I thought we had a little bit better defense.”

In the match, the Bearcats had a .094 hitting percentage and committed 33 errors. Macy Fuller paced the Bearcats with 15 kills, while setter Lucy Bartee dished out 41 assists.

Up next, the Bearcats will participate in the Lincoln Northeast Invitational where they will play Gretna and Lincoln Pius X on Friday.

daniel.zielinski@kearneyhub.com

@DanZielinski3

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