WALLA WALLA - The air was thick with tension in the Wa-Hi gymnasium Tuesday night as the Blue Devils took on the Cadets of Eisenhower in a Columbia Basin Big Nine 4A volleyball matchup.
Eisenhower clung to a one-point, 25-24 lead in the third set as the Cadet's Shannon Patterson stood ready at the service stripe.
Earlier, Wa-Hi cruised to a 25-13 victory in set one, then lost 25-21 in set two after falling behind 18-13.
In set three, an ace from Patterson could win the game and swing the momentum back into Eisenhower's favor. She tossed the ball in the air and sent it straight into the net.
The gym exhaled with relief and the Blue Devils went on to win the third set, 27-25, as Torri Crawford and Madeline Jacobson teamed up for a block and the winning point two plays later.
Wa-Hi took the win and the momentum, and with confidence in hand, dominated set four, 25-10.
"I'm definitely glad that we rallied back and pulled that one out," Wa-Hi coach Audra Cummings said. "I don't like to go to game five with anybody.
"I'm definitely glad that we ... were able to get the momentum back. That was a roller-coaster of a game," Cummings said.
Crawford, a 6-foot junior middle, was a dominating presence in the front-court for Wa-Hi. She consistently made plays, blocked shots and racked up 18 kills on the night.
"There was a mis-match in the middle tonight with their middle and our middle (Crawford)," Cummings said. "We were able to get here in rhythm a few different times, then we got out of rhythm a little bit, but she had a great night for us. Offensively, that's what we need from her."
The first set started with a bang when Eisenhower's Shelby Hein blocked a shot at the net and stopped the first rally of the game.
The Devils quickly recovered, however, and built a 10-8 lead.
Back-to-back aces from Chantelle Zamora sparked a 9-2 Wa-Hi scoring spree, putting the game out of reach at 20-9. Crawford provided the bookend for the victory, scoring two kills and a block consecutively before Lexie Mahan nailed an ace to end the game.
Both teams were sloppy in the opening set, but Wa-Hi made up for the sloppiness with intensity and athleticism.
"I think we won by the margin that we did that game because we had seven errors that game and the next two games we had 15-20 errors each," Cummings said. "We weren't making them earn a lot (of points), we were giving them way too many.
"We talked about keeping the ball in play and not making so many errors," Cummings said. "In games one and four we definitely did a much better job of that."
Set two was one to forget, as neither team played well. In this case though, Wa-Hi was simply the lesser sharp of the two.
Wa-Hi went on a 15-1 tear in the first set after trading points with Eisenhower to an 11-9 lead. Humphreys racked up three aces during the spree, to total five for the night, and Crawford slammed down her final kill for the win.
Libero Tianna Cummings had 12 digs in the match, followed closely by Kennedy Snider with 10 digs. Zamora added nine digs to her six kills on the night.
Brogan Watson totaled 10 assists and Franny Eacker-Rude had eight.
The victory moves Wa-Hi to 3-4 in CBBN play, and the Blue Devils travel to Pasco to take on Chiawana at 7 p.m. Thursday.