UTICA – For much of the fourth set, the Centennial Broncos seemed destined to force a fifth set against the Cross County Cougars. They built an early 12-4 lead, and after an illegal substitution negated a 4-0 Cougars run, they weathered pushed the lead to 19-11.
However, Cross County refused to fold. The Cougars chipped away at the deficit, slowly cutting it to 19-17 before Centennial scored five of the next seven points to force a set point at 24-19. Cross County then fought off five straight set points to even the match and eventually outlasted Centennial down the stretch to win a wild fourth set 32-30 and win the match 3-1.
Cross County dominated early, scoring the first 11 points of the match and building a 13-1 lead in the opening set before the Broncos fought back.
However, Centennial could never cut the deficit to fewer than nine points in a 25-16 Cougars win.
The Broncos flipped the script in the second set, scoring 17 of the first 18 points to build a commanding lead. Cross County chipped away at the deficit some, but Centennial still rolled to a 25-15 win to even the match.
A 10-1 Cross County run broke open what had been a tight third set, but Centennial answered back.
The Broncos eventually tied the match at 17 before the Cougars pulled away down the stretch for a 25-22 win.
Looking to force a decisive fifth set, Centennial shot out of the gate in the fourth set. They built an early 12-4 lead before the Cougars rattled off four straight points and forced a Broncos timeout.
Following a lengthy discussion out of the timeout, however, officials ruled there had been an illegal Cross County substitution, negating the Cougar run and giving Centennial a 13-5 lead.
The Broncos pushed the lead to 10 with consecutive points out of the timeout, but the Cougars refused to fold.
First, a 5-0 Cross County run cut the deficit to six. Later, trailing 19-12, the Cougars again rattled off five straight points and cut the Broncos' lead to just two.
Centennial answered right back, taking five of the next seven points to take a 24-19 lead.
With their backs against the wall, Cross County punched back.
Lilly Peterson hammered a kill and recorded a block on the next point to fight off a pair of set points.
A Centennial error shifted momentum, and Peterson followed with another kill. The Broncos then committed a net violation, and suddenly the set was tied at 24.
The two teams traded blows down the stretch, but tied at 30, a Centennial mistake at the service line opened the door for Cross County.
Molly Prochaska stepped over the line on the Broncos' serve, giving the Cougars a 31-30 lead and setting up match point.
Cross County slammed the door on Centennial during the next point, clinching a 32-30 win in a wild fourth set to win the match 3-1.
Peterson unofficially hammered a match-high 19 kills, while Cross County teammate Chloe Sandell added another 14. Junior Bren Lemburg whacked seven kills for the Cougars and Shyanne Anderson notched four.
Freshman Catelynn Bargen unofficially led Centennial with 10 kills in the loss. Junior Cambria Saunders added eight, while Averie Stuhr followed with six and Karley Naber crushed five.
At the service line, Anderson led Cross County with three aces, while Lemburg followed with two and Bexton Lundstrom and Josi Noble each crushed one. Bargen led the Broncos with three aces, and Naber and Samara Ruether each tallied one.
Sandell unofficially led the Cougars with three blocks, while sophomore Cora Payne stuffed three shots for the Broncos in the loss.
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