After splitting the first two sets with Joplin, Republic fell into a big hole early in the third. The Lady Tigers trailed 7-2, and eventually fell behind by six points, at 9-3. But Republic clawed its way back into the game, then scored 14 of the last 20 points for a tight win over the Eagles, 28-26, 22-25, 25-21.
After the match, head coach Allison Davis praised her team’s willingness to continue fighting in a tough situation.
“I’m just so proud of my team tonight. We’ve been talking all season about being mentally tough. We have lost some games that were very questionable and I felt like we deserved the win but we weren’t able to finish. And that’s the thing we’ve been pushing this whole season, is we have to be a more mentally tough team…and finish those big points and those big games,” said Davis. “And tonight they did exactly that. They were down several times throughout those three sets and yet they were still determined. And it’s just proving that we are becoming a more mentally tough team and doing the things that we want to improve on, and that’s what makes this coach super happy.”
In the first set, Republic took a 23-19 lead, only to surrender five straight points to Joplin. But the Lady Tigers overcame two set points to edge Joplin 28-26.
In the second set, it was Republic that jumped out on top, taking an 8-2 lead. But a streak of six consecutive points helped Joplin nab an 11-9 lead. The teams went back and forth until Joplin won four straight to overcome a 22-21 deficit and even the night at one set apiece.
In the finale, Republic overcame the slow start to get within two points at 11-9, but Joplin responded with three points in a row to make it 14-9. Republic scored six of the next seven to tie the game at 15, and pulled away down the stretch.
Rylee Moseman led Republic with ten kills. She also dished out 19 assists. Emma Pearce contributed ten digs, and Kailey Manes and Carle Ward had two blocks apiece. Chelsea Mobley added five service aces for the Lady Tigers.
“I said in the locker room that this was a complete team effort,” said Davis. “Even the people on the bench – they have so much heart. I told them, ‘I need you to keep the people on the court up,’ and they’re giving everything. Yeah, they want to play, but they want to do whatever’s best for the team. And this was a complete team win.”
The teams marked the night with a “Pink Out,” wearing pink warm-ups or jerseys and raising money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer.
Republic improves to 9-11-3 overall, and 2-4 in the Central Ozark Conference. Joplin falls to 13-10-2 and 0-6 in the COC.