By Matt Antonic
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The match between the Wildcat Juniors and Club A4 had already been an adrenaline-filled affair, so of course the third set came down to the wire.
Trailing 15-14 and a point away from a loss, an A4 hit landed on the line, or so the players thought. But the match official called it out. Game over, launching a victory celebration for the Wildcat Juniors and a protest from A4.
After falling in the first set, the Wildcat Juniors had successfully completed their comeback, winning in three sets (23-25, 25-17, 16-14). The win catapulted them atop the standings of Pool A in the 18 Club division of the Triple Crown NIT.
“That’ll be a good memory,” said a victorious Katie Carmichael.
The Sunday round of the tournament will indeed be a good memory for everyone on the Illinois-based Wildcat Juniors. They stormed through Pool A, winning all three of their matches, losing just two total sets in the process. It was Club A4 that provided the stiffest competition of the day.
The weekend as a whole has been an incredible experience for the team, which will return to the court tomorrow at noon.
“I think that we have gone through enough adversity this weekend that we’re learning to just be patient and wait for our time to score and go from there,” Wildcat Juniors coach Cassie Rose said. “I think it’s something, you go 3-0 on the day and win your pool that’s a huge confidence booster heading into the last day.”
After dominating the second set, the Wildcat Juniors and A4 engaged in a thriller of a final set. The Wildcat Juniors turned a 13-12 deficit into a 15-14 lead, prompting a timeout before the match point. Rose’s instructions in the huddle were simple.
“I told the team just to be patient, wait for our time and get our serve in and defend around the net,” Rose said.
Despite trailing near the end of the match, the Wildcat Juniors never lost their composure. In fact, they were as motivated as they had been during the whole match.
“We try in between points to really stay calm, not get too worked up and just stay aggressive and not be scared to make mistakes,” Rose said.
Having won six out of the eight sets they played on the day, the Wildcat Juniors are oozing with confidence. They will have their chance to win hardware in the championship rounds on Monday.
“We’re really confident that we’re going to win out tomorrow,” Carmichael said. “We know what we can do, and we proved it today.”