Adrian Barman and Kylee Brooks each blasted a kill to help Monroeville win a wild Game 3.
From there, the Division IV No. 8-ranked Eagles ran over Div. II No. 20 Bellevue in Game 4, topping the Lady Red, 25-17, 23-25, 34-32, 25-8, in non-conference action on Monday.
"Winning Game 3 was definitely a lot of momentum because we were down," Monroeville coach Kendra Snook said. "We were able to fight back and then we went point for point with them. We were patient when they had game point. It showed a lot of heart from my kids, and we held that composure into Game 4."
Bellevue led Game 3 from the very beginning, opening a lead as big as six points early on. But the Eagles (15-2) never let the lead balloon any larger, and even tied the game at 16 on a Bellevue (13-4) net violation. The Lady Red responded and took a 23-20 lead after kills from Madison Hrynciw and McKenna Davis — but Monroeville was not fazed.
Kills from Brooks and Barman, coupled with a service ace from Graisyn Yoder gave the Eagles a 24-23 lead. From there, madness ensued. Each team had five game points to take the lead in the match, but could not convert. A kill from Bellevue's Payton Vogel tied the game at 32 — then the kills from Barman and Brooks pushed Monroeville ahead.
"It creeps in your mind that we fought that hard, but came up short," Bellevue coach Karen Irons said. "In the huddle, we tried to stay positive. It just was not there. Monroeville played great defense the whole night. The game of volleyball is momentum. You fight that hard to get the momentum and it went in their favor."
The Eagles used that momentum to completely dominate Game 4. Brooks had two kills and Yoder had two more aces as Monroeville jumped out to a 6-0 lead. The Lady Red drew within 9-4 later after a kill from Vogel and a hitting error by the Eagles, but Monroeville ran off the next six points for a 15-4 lead.
Bellevue won three straight points, but the Eagles again went on a run. This time it was seven straight points for a 22-7 edge. An error by the Eagles halted the momentum only briefly as Maura Brown smacked one of her nine kills and Brooks recorded a block to finish the match in convincing fashion.
"We could not serve receive, plain and simple," Irons said of Game 4. "We come out in the first four points and the ball is dropping in front of us. We do not move our feet, and if you do not move your feet, serve receive can not play the game."
The teams played even over the first half of Game 1 before Monroeville pulled away. A kill from Brooks ignited a run of five straight points for the Eagles to take a 17-12 lead. Bellevue got back within striking distance at 20-17, but Monroeville won the last five points of the game to seize the early lead.
The Lady Red fought back in a back-and-forth Game 2. Bellevue led, 3-0, but found itself down 5-3 later on. The Lady Red responded and took an 18-13 lead after a kill from Davis and an ace from Hrynciw.
Monroeville stepped its game up a notch from there. The Eagles went on a 9-1 run for a 22-19 lead as Irons used her second timeout of the game. The Monroeville lead was 23-20 when Bellevue duplicated what the Eagles had done in Game 1 - a string of five straight points to take the game. Monroeville made three errors in the final five points while Taylor Baxter and Vogel each put down a kill for the Lady Red.
"We are never out of it," Irons said. "We can go on a run and put them away. We were up in Game 3, but have to finish it. A team is not going to give it to you. Someone has to take charge."
Vogel paced Bellevue with 16 digs, 15 kills, and four blocks while Baxter had 17 digs, 11 kills, and two blocks.
"I think (Vogel) still had her way with us a little bit," Snook said. "We knew what zone she liked to hit on what spots, so we really talked about keying in on her and Baxter and trying to take away their best shots."
Riley Mohr contributed nine kills and five blocks while Davis tallied six kills. Molly Bullion registered 37 assists, Hrynciw had 15 digs, Kami Hay had 12 digs, and Morgan Dendinger had 11 digs.
"It is kind of weird to play on a Monday night," Irons said. "The first game, it took us a while to get going. In the second and third games, we played great with a lot of energy. It is hard to sustain though."
For Monroeville, Kelsie Palmer led the Eagles with 16 kills and five blocks while Yoder and Brooks each had 13 kills. Brooks had three blocks and Yoder served three aces.
Camryn Hedrick registered 59 assists while Barman tallied 17 digs and eight kills for Monroeville. Stacia Stieber added 28 digs and four aces.
"We did a nice job of serving and keepin Bellevue out of its system so they could not get the ball to their big hitters," Snook said. "They have a very good offense and they dug a ton of balls. Early in the match, I think we were used to those balls being down usually and they were coming back at us."
For the Eagles, they have had a trying week. They lost at home in five games to No. 7 St. Paul last Tuesday, then topped No. 9 Mohawk on the road on Saturday in four games.
"We have had a tough week," Snook said. "I told them coming off the Mohawk win that we needed to get some rest on Sunday, but we were going to have to get right back at it. Coming back against a state-ranked team on the road was a big match, again getting us ready for the next season into tournament."