FOUNTAIN CITY — An early five-point lead quickly evaporated and before they even knew what happened the Hillsboro Tigers were down two sets to none.
Hillsboro fell behind again late in the third set, but came to life just in time to extend the match.
But in the end Cochrane–Fountain City pulled the meanest trick of Halloween night’s sectional semifinal match, escaping the winner-take-all fifth set to end Hillsboro’s season with a 25–23, 25–16, 21–25, 25–27, 15–13 final at Cochrane–Fountain City High School last Thursday night.
“Overall, we just made too many errors to win against a quality team like CFC,” said Hillsboro head coach Mark Sullivan. “It was one of the toughest defeats I have been involved with because victory was so close we could taste it.
“I told the girls that I was very proud of them not quitting when we got down two sets and that they have accomplished a great deal this year with the conference and regional championships. I told them to keep their heads up and learn how to take losses as graciously as we take wins, which is not easy to do.”
Thursday’s sectional semifinal started well enough as Hillsboro jumped out to a five-point lead early in the opening set, but gradually Tigers’ service, reception and hitting errors mounted causing them to drop the first 2 sets.
In the third set the Pirates (18–5) built a 20–15 lead and appeared on the verge of sweeping Hillsboro.
But the Tigers would not go down without a fight.
Sophomores Mackenzie Sullivan, Tasha Mitchell, and Sami Levy led the comeback effort.
Hillsboro rallied to win the third set 25–21, then came from behind in set four to score a narrow two-point 27–25 win.
In the fifth set Hillsboro tied the set at 13–13 and had the serve, but Cochrane–Fountain City made two more plays than the Tigers did.
“We just couldn’t get some of the 50/50 balls to go our way and had a few calls also not go in our favor,” added Sullivan.
The younger Sullivan finished the night with 14 kills, 25 digs, 16 assists and five aces with a perfect serving percentage and a .542 hitting percentage.
Mitchell added 16 kills and five blocks, while Levy posted eight kills and five blocks.
The team numbers tell the story though as the Tigers finished the night with a serve percentage of .890, a hitting percentage of .242, and had 19 hitting errors, 17 reception errors and 11 service errors.
“It was a great year and is always tough when it is over,” added coach Sullivan. “Thanks to all my seniors for their efforts and commitment, and I am looking forward to seeing what next year brings us. Another big thanks to all the parents for the team dinners, they were amazing and much appreciated.”
CFC went on to lose Saturday’s Onalaska Luther sectional final to North Crawford 25–22, 25–16, 20–25, 25–18.