There are two ways of looking at Rowland Hall-St. Mark's victory over Juab Thursday night.

On one hand, the Winged Lions could have, and possibly should have beaten the Wasps in three straight games.

On the other hand, the nail-biter was made even more exciting because it's the last match for both teams as they head into the state tournament.

"It was a nice to play a game like that and end up winning it going into state," said Rowland Hall-St. Mark's coach Kendra Tomsic after the Lions held on to win 25-15, 25-22, 21-25, 22-25, 15-7. "I really think we should have won the third game, but I have to give Juab a lot of credit. They played tough and they didn't give up."

Both coaches said their squads have struggled with consistency this season.

Rowland-Hall owned the momentum most of the first two games, although the Wasps were far from dead. In the third game, the Wasps came back to win and carried that momentum into the fourth game. They were led by senior middle hitter Kaitlyn Durbin, who finished with 16 kills. Jessica Lynn, a senior middle, added eight kills, while setter Katie Kenison finished with 14 assists.

"They've just got to be a determined team," said Juab coach Daylemarie Eves. "They've got the skill, if they'd just do what they know how to do. They've got to let their instincts kick in. This team tends to think to much."

The Winged Lions were led by junior setter/right side hitter Erin Lence. She earned 32 assists and smashed 15 kills in the victory. The team's sophomore middle hitters Namoonga Kwendakwema and Halee Johnson were awesome, especially defensively. Johnson finished with 32 blocks while Kwendakwema added 16 blocks.

Tomsic said the two sophomores went straight from the freshman team to varsity to fill a hole for the squad.

"I had to take a chance on them, and it paid off," she said. "It's made a world of difference for us."

Junior outside hitter Allison Reed said the players didn't plan to prolong the match, but it felt good to win their first five-game match of the season.

"It sends out our season with a bang," she said.

And her coach hopes, a lesson about what the young team is capable of accomplishing.

"This was nice because we know we can pull it off," Tomsic said. "We can be down and still come back and get it done."

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