Medicine Valley spoiled Maxwell’s home opener on Thursday.
The Raiders weathered a relentless Wildcats attack and their loud, orange-draped sea of fans, outlasting Maxwell in a five-set thriller on the road to start the season with a win.
"This was one of the best atmospheres I have been in," Raiders head coach Diana Klein said. "I am really proud of these girls, for as hard as they’ve worked over the past three weeks, coming in here and winning in a tough atmosphere was awesome."
Medicine Valley (1-0) played their way back on numerous occasions, starting with a sloppy first set that teased the possibility of a different outcome early on against the Wildcats.
Led by Janie Sommer, Maxwell took an early 12-8 lead in the first set, capitalizing on four aces and multiple kills. The Raiders pulled within a point on a couple of occasions, but self-inflicted errors dissipated a possible comeback as Maxwell took the set, 25-15.
But as Klein and the Medicine Valley faithful would come to witness from the sidelines, this Raiders team carried an unwillingness to let Maxwell come away with straight sets.
"They came back and that’s something these girls haven’t been able to do in years past," Klein said. "We would break down after losing a set, but this time they fought back and I can’t tell you how proud that makes me."
The Raiders took a six-point cushion in the second set, leading 12-6 to start. Medicine Valley led by as many as seven in the set, holding off a late, 5-0 Maxwell rally to win the second set, 25-20.
With even sets, the Raiders weathered another sloppy start to the third set, opening up a 10-8 lead after trailing by as many as four.
The Wildcats, however, rallied back to outscore Medicine Valley 17-8 and take the third set, 25-18.
Klein gathered the Raiders before the fourth set began, plotting for a formula that would work. It started with finding an antidote for Maxwell’s Sommer, who finished the game with a game-high 22 kills, six ace serves and 10 digs, and converting defense into offense.
"Janie Sommer is just, wow, wherever she’s at she can hit the ball and put the ball away," Klein said. "They really caught us in the back-court a few times, but our girls eventually adjusted really well
Both teams remained knotted late into the fourth set, trading leads three times before Med Valley’s 5-1 run put them ahead 23-19 — the largest lead of the set for either team. For Klein’s Raiders, their stout defensive effort late in the set helped hold off Maxwell, 25-20, to force a fifth and final set.
In the final set, Med Valley surged to the lead first with an 8-2 cushion, closing the door on Maxwell to slip away with a 15-6 fifth-set to clinch the win.
Medicine Valley will try to extend their winning streak against Wallace on Friday, while Maxwell’s next game will be at home on Sept. 5 against district rival Brady.