HOLIDAY — Mitchell's Courtney Edling and Payton Murchie exchanged low-fives — so hard Edling winced. They bumped hips and bounced back to their places.
After losing the first two games Tuesday it seemed Mitchell (18-5) wouldn't have much to celebrate. The Mustangs changed that by narrowly winning the next three to steal the match, 21-25, 20-25, 26-24, 25-20, 17-15.
"I told them it was gonna be the most composed team that won it," Mitchell coach Keith Paulk said. "And they did."
The Mustangs have played several five-game matches this season, he pointed out, winning all of them.
Mitchell took early leads in the first three games. In the first two, Anclote's Aaliyah Anderson and Mia Lockhart scored enough kills, combined with errors by the Mustangs, to pull ahead.
Anclote (15-4) stayed ahead for most of the third, and families on both sides trickled out, a few muttering that the game was over.
The bleachers may have been emptier, but the gym grew no quieter when the Mustangs pulled ahead three times, first at 19-17 and finally at 26-24, to stay in the game.
Though Anclote took an early lead in the fourth, the Mustangs fought back with a series of kills by Kayla Widera to regain it at 16-15 and 21-20.
The Sharks wouldn't score again in that game. Two kills and an ace from Daniele Green and a block and a kill from Widera sealed it.
If the outcome was unpredictable throughout the match, the Mustangs tried to make their win decisive in the fifth, pulling ahead at 4-3 and staying in the lead until Anclote tied the score at 14 and 15.
Green smacked the ball short but hard over the net for a kill that pulled Mitchell ahead. Murchie slammed the ball for the final point and pulled in her fists to cheer.
"It was about getting over the hump of their crowd, and the first two," Paulk said. "It was about winning that first one."