CARMICHAELS — It’s hard to quantify and even harder to measure.
But emotion played a key role for Carmichaels High School’s volleyball team Tuesday night.
Stung by a three-set loss at Geibel Catholic earlier in the season, the Lady Mikes gave a gutsy performance, pulling out a 3-2 victory over the previously undefeated Lady Gators by scores of 25-23, 21-25, 25-22, 21-25 and 15-9.
The win means the two teams would share the Section 2-A title with 13-1 records if they both win Thursday evening’s section and regular-season finales. Carmichaels travels to Mapletown while Geibel hosts Avella. The Lady Mikes won their first meeting with the Lady Maples , 3-0, while the Lady Gators trailed the Lady Eagles 2-1 before rallying to win at Avella, 3-2.
Carmichaels, which claimed its first ever section title by winning at Geibel Catholic last year, now has a chance for a second consecutive first-place finish.
The Lady Mikes fed off the energy of senior Taylor Christopher, who finished with 18 kills, many of them the booming, floor-shaking kind.
But it was Emma Hyatt, whose kill for the 14th point in the critical fifth game that seemed to sap Geibel of its will. And when the Lady Gators had a mishit for the Lady Mikes’ game-winner, the large crowd erupted.
“This win means so much,” said Christopher. “It’s so amazing.”
Christopher is a bundle of energy and can’t sit when taken out for a breather.
“I have to be pacing back and forth,” she said. “I have to be moving all the time.”
Carmichaels head coach Julianne Speeney said the players looked at this match as “a challenge, not a threat.
“We were looking at it as a chance to grow,” she said. “In my book, all of our players were key.”
The Lady Mikes were WPIAL runners-up last season and played in the state tournament.
“We want to go even farther this year,” Christopher said.
Geibel, which got 37 kills, 10 service points and 4 aces from senior outside hitter Lauren Tomasko, might have something to say about that.
“They had to win. We didn’t have to win,” Geibel head coach Rick Watkins said. “We’re probably going to end up being tied with them. We beat them 3-0 at our place and they beat us 3-2 here. So I see us as the better team in that regard.”
In the first set, the Lady Mikes built a 19-13 lead but the Lady Gators rattled off five of the next seven points to make it 20-18. Geibel scored the next five points for a 23-20 lead. Carmichaels rallied with five straight points, the winner coming on a Geibel mishit.
Geibel built a 19-11 lead in the second game before the Lady Mikes made two short runs near the end. A delicate tip by Tomasko found empty space on the other side of the net for a 25-21 victory.
Carmichaels trailed 18-15 in the third game but ran off nine of the next 13 points before Christopher wrapped it up with a spike, 25-22.
Geibel sent it to a fifth, and deciding, game, slowly pulling away with some strong strikes and well-placed dinks for a 25-21 victory.
Kennedi Stockey had 18 kills for the Lady Gators, and Shannon Watkins rang up 55 assists, 13 service points and a pair of aces.
For Carmichaels, Hyatt had 5 blocks and 14 kills, Nicole Ludrosky had 15 kills and 17 digs, Alie McGee had 37 assists, Sydney Kuis contributed 19 digs and 3 aces, Abigail Fordyce had 12 digs, and Emma Holeran finished with 18 points and 3 aces.
Rob Burchianti contributed to this story.