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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News
Provo's Samara Ellsworth (2) and Cassidy Christiansen (6) reach up to block Orem's Amy Gonzalez on Thursday in Orem.

OREM — An intense fight between the cats and dogs ensued on the Orem High School volleyball court Thursday night with the cats extending their claws and coming away victorious.

And when the Tigers beat the Provo Bulldogs in five fierce games 21-25, 25-7, 25-23, 22-25, 17-15, they exploded off the bench in celebration.

And for good reason. The two teams dueled through 10 ties and five lead changes and went to extra time in the fifth with the Tigers finally surviving the grueling affair after a kill by April Robins and a Provo hitting error.

"We didn't get scared. We weren't afraid to swing tonight. They were not afraid to make the big play," said Orem coach Natalie Kidman.

Both teams looked greatly improved over the start of the Region 7 season, and both will be in severe battles for placement as the league came into the Thursday night action with five teams tied for first place, all with identical 4-2 records. Orem came out of the match with a 5-2 mark while the Bulldogs fell to 4-3, but as the season rolls on, one thing has become certain, nothing can be predicted in this region.

Kidman believes the five teams are evenly matched and it becomes a mental game when they meet on the court.

And it appeared after Game 1 that Provo had the mental edge on the Tigers when they came away with a hard-fought victory.

But that edge didn't last long as the Tigers roared back in the second game trying to prove themselves the better team. And it started and ended with Emily Julian, who finished with four kills, two solo blocks and two block assists in Game 2 alone.

"She's a force to be reckoned with on the front row. She's a monster," said Kidman about her middle, who suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and was hurting come Game 5.

"She will not let anything get in her way of helping the team," said Kidman, who gave Julian a lot of the credit for the team being able to hang on and come away with the Game 5 victory.

Julian wasn't playing alone, however, as team kill leader, Ella Moe had 17 kills, and Robins added nine kills. Julian finished the night with 11 kills, three solo blocks and 14 block assists.

Kidman also gave props to her setter, saying that Shelby Lamoreaux was putting up good stuff for the hitters throughout the match.

Game 3 saw eight ties, while the two teams fought through 31 ties throughout the match. Again Julian came on strong, and Kidman commended her entire front line for its blocking efforts against the Bulldog arms.

"I think our blocking pulled Provo out of their game," said Kidman.

Amber Zibetti led the Bulldogs with 10 kills, and Kara Griffin and Cassidy Christiansen added six each.

E-mail: jolsen@desnews.com