In one of the strangest endings to a volleyball match, North Vermillion dropped their sectional opener with Bethesda Christian in five games by scores of 25-20, 24-26, 25-23, 19-25 and 11-15.
After four plus games of very competitive and entertaining volleyball, the score in the fifth and decisive set was 14-11 in favor of Bethesda Christian when confusion took control and the 15th and final point was never played, but instead was awarded to the Patriots without a ball being served.
After the match, Falcon head coach Hilary Gibson tried to explain what had happened to award the point, game and match to Bethesda Christian.
“We were down 14-11 [in a game to 15] and the official asked me if I wanted a timeout,” she explained. “I asked her if I had one left to call and she said, “Yes, do you want to use it?” So I called it and the other official (in the stand) ruled that I had none left so she awarded a point to them [Bethesda] and that ended the game.”
Gibson continued, “When I turned to the official near me, saying, if I don’t have it, don’t give it to me as it’s your mistake not mine, I was told she had no way to change it and point counted. I thought if it was her mistake, she’d just tell the other official and we’d get ready for the final point, but it didn’t turn out that way.”
Later Gibson was told that she should have checked with the scorer’s bench, not the officials, so that it was Gibson’s mistake, but she pointed out that the officials indicate the timeouts after each one is used so they should know the count and the floor official should never have made the offer.
Asked if there was any way to appeal or change the ruling on site before the teams left, Martin Brown, the North Vermillion Athletic Director replied, “Unfortunately, no.”
With that confirmed, the contest ended with the Falcons on the short end of the score and the Patriots advancing to take on Attica on Saturday.
The games themselves were back-and-forth contests with neither team able to take control.
When one team would make a run and go up by a few points, the other would respond with a streak of their own to reel in their opponent.
In game one, it was five-all before Rylee Dowers reached the service rotation for the Falcons and she served her team into a 12-5 lead to force a Patriot timeout.
Dowers would go on to make similar serving runs in games two, four and five to keep her team either ahead or close.
Bethesda Christian pulled within two at 20-18, but North Vermillion closed out game one with a 5-2 run to win 25-20.
Game two looked as if it might come out the same way as the Falcons opened a 9-2 lead, but Bethesda responded to pull within three at 12-9.
North Vermillion kept the lead until 15-17, regained it at 21-18 and led 24-22, but they then dropped the next four points to fall 24-26.
Game three was a much closer contest as neither team could go up by more than two or three points until the Falcons led 21-17 on their way to a 25-23 win.
The fourth game saw North Vermillion lead 5-1, fall behind 10-8, lead at 17-16, trail at 20-18 before falling 25-19 to set up the decisive fifth game.
The Falcons led it 4-3, fell behind 8-5, but rallied to close the game to two at 12-10 before dropping back 14-11 before the fiasco of the final point put a total emotional damper on what up to that point had been a fun evening for the fans.
After trying to explain what happened at the end, Gibson turned to the night as a whole and the season in full.
“We came out well, but they made some tipping adjustments and we didn’t adjust to their adjustments well enough,” she said about the contest with Bethesda. “We also missed some serves at what were really bad times in the games.”
She added, “I think we played not to lose but then got too loose and couldn’t get things back in control.”
Although not rewarded with as many wins as perhaps the team deserved this season, Gibson said she saw the improvement in her squad over the teams of the past couple of years.
“This team bought into what we wanted them to do and they were unselfish in making sacrifices for the sake of the team,” she explained. “I think we are just at the beginning of the culture that we are trying to create here so I’m looking forward to the future.”