On the verge of a late game collapse with a potential playoff berth at risk of slipping away, Sarah Reid made sure she did her part in trying to extend her Lakehead Thunderwolves career.
The fifth-year senior, playing in her final hometown contest, rallied the Thunderwolves to a five-set (25-20, 25-14, 22-25, 24-26, 15-8) victory over the Nipissing Lakers in Ontario university volleyball at the Thunderdome on Saturday.
The win was the second straight for Lakehead (6-13), who kept their playoff hopes alive by entering into a three-way tiebreaker with the Western Mustangs and Brock Badgers.
They almost left themselves out of the conversation after a significant hiccup against Nipissing (0-18).
After squandering a two-set lead, Reid gathered her teammates during the break before the deciding fifth and relit the fire.
“We just had to refocus and come back as a team,” she said. “There was no way we were losing that game in my mind and I just made sure they knew it.”
She backed her speech up with actions at a pivotal point in the winner-take-all race to 15 points final set.
After the visitors took four of the first six points, Lakehead was on the ropes when Reid chased down an errant pass on the Thunderwolves final touch and executed a running backwards bump that landed in the middle of the Lakers court.
While she admitted it was a lucky play, she also knows it served as the turning point in that deciding set.
“Plays like that can definitely change the momentum for a team,” Reid said.
According to Lakehead head coach Chris Green, Reid’s intangibles make her play much bigger than her listed height of 5’6”.
“To me, she’s been such a landmark around here in terms of playing and she proves every day it’s not about size, it’s about what you have in your heart and head and she’s been valuable for that,” Green said.
“She carried the group and that’s typical of what she’s done for five years.”
The Thunderwolves started strong with wins in the first two sets before the Lakers tightened up their defence and disrupted the Lakehead offence.
“The biggest cliche in the game is that the hardest one to win is the third,” Green said. “We had to work harder than we did in the third and it almost bit us.”
The Nipissing net presence and blockers thwarted numerous Thunderwolves attacks during the fourth set and were just able to pull it out after Lakehead rallied to tie it after trailing 21-23.
With the win, the Thunderwolves find themselves in a tiebreaker scenario that appears to be favourable.
According to the OUA’s tiebreaker procedures, ties are settled by the head-to-head set records followed by head-to-head points for and against. All three teams posted 8-8 set records in head-to-head play, while Lakehead has the best point differential.
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