It seems Demons coach Meghan Mental did her homework.
After losing 3-0 earlier this season to the Comets, she returned to Amherst on Tuesday with a solid plan. The Mental-led Westlake team traded the lead all evening in varsity volleyball action.
Amherst trailed the Demons by a point or two until tying at 10-10 in the first game. Sarah Weigand slammed three kills to get Amherst rolling. Payton Jackson, Alana Carrion, Sarah Farley, and Tory Small took over at the net to pull Amherst ahead 14-10.
The Demons came back under the hitting of Sylvie Yappel, Leah Schmidt, and Audrey Lyle to battle back to 16-16. London Voss served up a small run to pull Amherst back into the lead 19-16.
Then things got a little odd.
The Demons closed the gap to tie the match at 23-23. A bad Comets spike and a game-winning kill by Lyle ended game one 25-23 in Westlake’s favor.
Amherst had more kills than Westlake (14-11). Tori Small had four, Carrion and Weigand three each, Jackson a pair, and Farley hit for one.
The pattern was set for the evening. In game two, Amherst scored three points before the Demons got a side out. The lead went back and forth until Shannon Minney made a dink that pulled the Comets ahead 10-8.
A Westlake timeout at 14-9 did nothing to stop the Comets. Amherst extended its lead to 10 points. A minor comeback by the Demons narrowed the gap to five as Amherst again hit for more kills (13-9) but this time for a 25-20 win.
Game three went to the Demons. Libby Paul scored the first four points for Westlake, which maintained a two- to three-point advantage until 22-17. A Comets timeout had little effect after a surprise kill by Westlake’s Lexi Whitesell widened the Demons’ lead to 23-17.
Amherst didn’t have enough time to even the score before Westlake took the game 25-20 on a block point by Yappel and a Comets spike that landed out of bounds.
Leading Comets scorers were Small with four, Farley spiking three, and Voss with three.
Down 2-1, the Comets came back in the fourth game with a vengeance. Behind hits from Small and Weigand, dinks by London Voss, six blocks points (three by Small), and kills by Faith Rico and Farley, Amherst overwhelmed the Demons defense.
Mid-game saw a 13-5 Comets lead. Westlake managed only five kills, giving a 25-12 win to Amherst. Game five would have to decide the match.
In the nail-biter final, Amherst once again fell behind 3-0 under the offense of Paul. An Amherst timeout gave the Comets a chance to focus and they slowly pulled even with Westlake at 5-5 as Tori Small and Faith Rico found weak spots in the Demons defense.
The match stayed virtually even until 15-all. A kill by Small and a Demons hit that landed out of bounds ended Westlake’s skillful attempt to upend Amherst on their final home game of the season.
Small had four kills and block point in game five, Voss three points, and Farley two.
Photos by Carl Sullenberger | Amherst News-Times Junior middle hitter Tory Small slams another of her 24 kills against Westlake. Amherst took the match 3-2 on Senior Night for a 16-5 season record.