Mazama volleyball needed just one point.
After dropping the first two sets, the Vikings rallied in the third to take set point, 24-20.
Another point would force a fourth set and give Mazama another chance at a rivalry upset.
But Henley began to chip away at the Vikings lead. With three-straight points, the Hornets looked as though they might sweep the match.
That’s what some might have expected. Playing at home with a 4-6 record against a team that dropped the past five games for a 2-7 record, Henley felt like a favorite.
But the Vikings squeaked by with a third-set victory.
Mazama rode their momentum through three-straight set victories to down the Henley Hornets on the road, in sets of 21-25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-14, 15-10.
“Momentum is a funny thing,” Mazama head coach John Downey said. “If you can catch the momentum going your way, sometimes you can roll it through all the way to the end.”
The Vikings got their second chance off a long serve from Henley to send them into a fourth set.
They charged through the first eight rallies of the fourth to take an 7-1 lead and blazed through the remainder of the set to take the fourth 25-14 – the match’s most uneven set – and tie the match, 2-2.
Once the Hornets started to fall, they couldn’t maintain their energy. From the bench, Henley assistant coach told her team they needed to be more dynamic and move more.
Henley junior Ellie Niehus tried to keep her teammates talking and positive in the hopes that the Hornets could bounce back.
“I think our main issues was the energy at the end,” she said. “Mazama fought back hard too. I think once we get more accurate on getting out hits in, we’ll be right back on top of it.”
For the Vikings it was the energy from their third-set victory that helped them rally for the comeback win.
Sophomore Mallory Menken led the Viking charge with seven kills, four aces and eight blocks. Freshman Bailey Bartlett and sophomore Bridget Fenner had five kills apiece. Fenner added nine assists and freshman libero Ella Baley had a team-high 16 digs.
“We all just played as hard as we could to the very end,” Fenner said. “We just really picked it up with our energy. Just a lot of enthusiasm and coming together as a team.”
The Vikings, behind 4-0 and 5-0 runs, dominated the final set to secure their surprising upset victory and snap their losing streak.
For Viking coach Downey, this feels like an upswing and proof that his young team is starting to come together. With five freshman and three sophomores, he believes it’s only a matter of time before his team can pull all the pieces together and really compete in the Skyline Conference.
“What I’ve liked all season about them is that they play every ball,” he said. “I think in this conference, you can’t give up on any play. The more aggressive defensive teams will usually come out on top.”
Tuesday, Mazama will play at Klamath Union at 6:30 p.m. for another Skyline Conference rivalry game. That night, Henley will travel to play conference opponents North Valley.