After four consecutive years of having to watch Firestone accept first-place medals in the City Series championship, Ellet finally flipped the script and ended the Falcons’ streak with a 3-1 win Thursday night in the title game at Kenmore High School.
Ellet and Firestone split the first two sets before the Orangemen found a rhythm. They took the final two sets handily except for a late run by the Falcons in the fourth set that made things interesting.
Both schools entered Thursday with losses to each other as the only blemish on either’s league record. But for Ellet, finding a way to beat the four-time champions on the road a few weeks ago was the beginning of a new winning mindset that was carried over to the rubber match.
“When we beat them at their place, it kind of sunk in that we can do this,” Ellet coach Tina Wallace said. “They had a mystique about them that we had a few years ago. We finally put it all together.”
Unlike Ellet and Firestone’s first two meetings, only four sets were needed the third time. The Orangemen played clean and found ways to extend volleys that should have been easy points for the Falcons. No one player stood out, though Wallace said several had better games than usual. Ellet was just too solid at each spot and outlasted the fast-paced Firestone 25-23, 15-25, 25-13, 25-19.
“I thought our team, player to player, was better,” Wallace said. “We played together. We had a purpose. Our two seniors had been here four times and finally got the win. They came together with a common goal and they got it.”
One of those seniors was Christie Klinginsmith, who was named 2012 City Series Player of the Year by the league’s coaches. She led Ellet with nine assists and had several nice saves to keep points alive. For her and fellow senior Kasey Williams, this title was a long time coming.
“We’ve worked so hard every year and been in the championship game and haven’t pulled through, so it’s a really great feeling,” Klinginsmith said. “Being a senior, the pressure was on to win this championship game. It feels so good. And to win it in four instead of five [sets] is great.”
Junior Lindsey Chafe led Ellet with 17 kills and six digs, including a couple digs off spikes from the powerful Sara Davis.
“I know so many of the [Firestone] players and they’re good friends, but it’s so fun to finally take it and be champions,” Chafe said. “We’ve wanted this so bad for years, it was horrible, and we finally did it.”
Davis, a junior who set a career high with 31 kills against Ellet this season, had 24 kills Thursday night.
“This is awesome because I knew we’d have to slow Sara down,” Wallace said. “She had a field day against us last time and you can see why my concern was real. She has unbelievable hang time.”
Despite playing for the title in four consecutive years, Firestone coach Stacey Miller said the Falcons needed some composure in the big game.
“I think the difference tonight was she [Wallace] had more players accustomed to playing under these types of conditions,” Miller said. “This was a tough loss. But I like how my girls fought back to get back in that final set. They kept their heads in it.”
Ellet held a 19-9 lead in the fourth set before Firestone rattled off eight points in a row. Klinginsmith had a spike and a nice save to stop the Falcons’ momentum.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.