Wellston team huddle (copy)

Wellston celebrates a point earlier this season. The Golden Rockets earned a tough five-set victory over Crooksville on Tuesday in a Division III sectional semifinal.

WELLSTON — All season long, the seniors on Wellston’s volleyball team have talked about wanting to accomplish something big.

After winning eight games in the regular season, the Golden Rockets had their work cut out for them in their opening tournament game against Crooksville.

However, despite playing from behind for most of the night, that determination to keep playing propelled them to a comeback victory in five sets over the Ceramics 19-25, 25-12, 21-25, 25-11 and 15-8 in a Division III sectional semifinal on Tuesday.

“I think in a way that the girls thought we’d come in and sweep Crooksville, but it was a tough game and they put up a fight,” Wellston coach Kaitie Roberts said. “But once they realized that it wasn’t going to be that easy, they really came together.

“Our passing was great, our hitting was pretty solid and Jasmyne (Mohler) was incredible in the back row. She was constantly diving on the floor and even shocked me with a few of them that she got to. Just an unbelievable game.”

The theatrics of the opening set gave an inside how to how the rest of the night would unfold.

Crooksville jumped ahead 5-0, only for Wellston to counter back with Kamryn Karr at the serving on a 13-0 run to control a 13-5 lead.

Yet, the Ceramics countered back with some timely aces and Wellston errors on a 12-2 run to take a 17-15 lead, one it controlled for the rest of the opening set for the win.

That first set loss somewhat woke up the Golden Rockets, realizing they had a battle in front of them.

They never trailed in the second set as they jumped ahead 10-4 courtesy of a 5-0 run. Between Crooksvile errors and timely kills from Sadie Henry, they put things in cruise control the rest of the way to tie the game 1-1.

“Throughout the year, we’ve swept a few teams and gotten swept because we’re inconsistent at times,” Karr said. “Being that this was our last home game for us seniors, it’s a little emotional and we started a little slow.”

The battle ensued in the third set, but Crooksville had all the momentum and played with high energy as it controlled the lead throughout must of the set.

Yet, just when it seemed like the Ceramics were about to close out, the Golden Rockets countered back with four straight points to take a 24-23 lead. Though the Ceramics faced match point, they caught a couple breaks before getting a friendly roll off the net to claim the third set win.

However, Wellston didn’t panic or show any signs of defeat. It simply went back on the court and dominated the fourth set.

“I pulled out the ‘I’m a senior, so we don’t want this to be my last game’ card going into the fourth set,” Karr said. “Although it’s a little tough for underclassmen to understand what that feeling is to potentially play your last game, we all just rallied together.”

Crooksville hitting errors allowed Wellston to jump ahead 10-4, and it was off to the races. Later in the set, Wellston opened up a 9-0 run to take a double digit lead before pushing the game to a fifth set.

“Us seniors really stepped up and wanted that win, not just for us, but also for (Taylar Spencer), who wasn’t able to play,” Wellston’s Nevaeh Ousley said. “It sucks she couldn’t play, but we wanted it for her.”

It was a race to 15 to advance in the tournament, but it wasn’t a senior who made the biggest impact. It was Wellston’s Lauren Cheatem who did.

Her height defensively and power offensively was much more than Crooksville simply could handle. She powered three kills that gave Wellston an 8-4 lead.

Though the Ceramics counters back with four of the next five points to trim the lead to 9-8, an ace from Ousley and a kill from Henry pushed the lead to 12-8, which was enough momentum to push the Golden Rockets across the finish line to advance.

“Lauren did a great job, even though she was playing out of position since Taylar wasn’t able to play,” Roberts said. “She admitted that she was lost a couple times, but I just told her to do her best and let the game come to you. And when she had her chances, she put the ball down.”

Wellston advances to a Division III sectional final on Thursday at Northwest. A win would give the Golden Rockets their first sectional title since 1998.

“We know Northwest is a really good team, but we’ll be ready to play,” Ousley said. “Never count out the underdog.”

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