Firestone has rarely been challenged by another City Series volleyball team this year while winning all 12 league matches.
But the Falcons got all they wanted and then some Thursday night, prevailing in five intense sets against Ellet in the City Series league championship at Kenmore High.
Falcons’ senior Sara Davis, honored as the City’s Player of the Year during a pre-match ceremony, delivered five of her 28 kills, including the last three points of the night, as Firestone (18-4) survived 25-16, 19-25, 25-22, 17-25, 15-10.
After losing to Ellet in last year’s championship, Firestone regained the title it captured the previous four years.
“It was pretty tough but we came back and we played our Falcon game,” Davis said. “I knew we could do it. We believe that we can win every single time no matter who we play. We have the determination to play to the fullest, so I think we did great tonight.”
Ellet (13-7) had lost both regular-season encounters with Firestone, but by decreasing margins. The Orangemen were swept the first time, played a competitive four-set match the next and did everything but win this time.
With Ellet riding the momentum of a fourth-set win, Firestone stormed to a 7-2 lead in the fifth after two emphatic spikes by the 6-foot-1 Davis. Kills by juniors Janelle Perry and Taliyah Carter and an ace serve by junior Destynee Lovejoy made it 10-3 and forced Ellet coach Tina Wallace to call her second timeout of the set.
Led by 5-9 outside hitter Lindsey Chafe, the Orangemen got to within four-point margins three times before a crosscourt spike by Davis closed it out.
The Falcons proved they were up to the challenge of beating a good team three times in one season.
“They [Ellet] stepped up and played really well,” Davis said. “They found our weaknesses and worked hard, too. And I really respect them for that. They played a great game.”
The back-and-forth battle kept the crowd entertained throughout, particularly an exciting third set when Firestone erased a 15-8 deficit, scoring the last five points — two on ace serves by the 5-9 Carter who notched five points during an 8-1 run.
“Just stay focused and try to work hard on my game,” Carter said. “And make sure I don’t get down.”
Davis, who also had seven blocks and two service aces, said she enjoyed the comeback during that third set.
“Not only did we work hard to get it, we had fun doing it,” Davis said. “We have our rough times but we bounce right back. That’s our game. We play big and we’re the champions.”
Lovejoy, Firestone’s other first-team All-City choice, contributed 46 assists. Perry had 16 digs and 10 service points.
“It wouldn’t be a championship without the excitement,” said Firestone coach Stacey Myers, honored as league Coach of the Year. “I knew they would bring their best to us. We were ready for it. We were able to work together to pull out the win.”
Myers said her team was able to refocus for the deciding set.
“We were really disciplined and executing at the beginning of that fifth set,” she said. “That’s what we needed to do the whole match. We finally were doing that in that set.”
Chafe led Ellet with 17 kills and junior Laura Lakins had 12. Senior setter Abbey Davis dished out 24 assists and junior Emily Murray had six kills and 15 service points.
“I’m disappointed because we had a game plan and it was working,” Ellet coach Tina Wallace said. “And then they went away from our game plan. There’s a reason why Sara [Davis] is player of the year. If you allow her to take over the game, she will. And she did.”