FORRESTON – In a marathon match between Forreston and Polo with long volleys, diving saves, and fierce net play, a breakthrough finally occurred with the score tied 13-13 in the third set.
That is when Alexus Houston got loose. After being bottled up by Marco blocks for the first two-and-a-half sets, the 5-foot-7 outside hitter had seven kills in a 10-point run by Forreston.
That made it 22-13, and the Cardinals escaped with a 25-27, 25-23, 25-16 win.
“She started off slow tonight, with a ton of hitting errors,” Forreston coach Shannon Williams said. “Once we got more ball control and better sets, Alexus was hard to stop.”
She also added the 10th point on a block to make it 22-13, and a determined Polo team was never able to recover after giving highly-touted Forreston (11-1, 23-8-1) all it could handle in both matches this season.
“Our goal was to put some blocks up against her,” Polo coach Rhiannon Seible said. “Where we struggled was holes in the blocks.”
The Marcos (5-8, 11-13-2) took Forreston to three sets on September 26 at home, and won the first set on Forreston’s home court Tuesday.
They almost pulled off the upset, pulling within a 22-22 tie in the second set, but a pair of return errors proved costly, and Houston closed out the 25-23 set win with a kill after a long volley.
“Polo gave us everything we could handle,” Williams said. “They have hitters and good athletes.”
With Marah Blake serving, the Marcos came back from a 23-16 deficit in the first set to pull within 23-20. Forreston made it 24-20, but committed return and service errors to let Polo tie it 24-all on a Mallory Patterson kill.
After an out-of-bounds by the Cardinals, Alex Dusing gave Polo the win with two straight points.
The second set was even closer, with neither team ahead by more than 3 points at any time. Sophomore Nicole Boelens led the way for Polo with seven kills in the close loss.
“We played like a team with everyone having a part in it,” Seibel said. “Our setters knew where our strengths are, and we had a solid row with blocking.”
Polo closes out the season with Senior Night against Pecatonica on Thursday.
“We’re excited for that and regional,” Seible said. “This is our best record in over 10 years.”