When Bel Air's Chris Fleckenstein stepped up to serve with Tuesday'smatch on the line, just about everybody in the C. Milton Wright gym knew it probably was over.
The Mustangs held a 14-12 lead in the final game, but Fleckenstein had dominated the Mustangs with her serveall afternoon. It was no different in the final minutes. She served three aces in the last four points to close out the match, 15-5, 13-15, 14-16, 15-11, 16-14.
"We seem to always do our best under pressure," said Fleckenstein, a junior captain for the seven-time county champs.
"Usually during the season, we're always behind and we come back."
The Mustangshad a 12-4 lead in the fifth game, but they let the match slip away on poor passing and misplayed balls. Bel Air showed little of its power offense but managed to return everything and waited for the Mustangs to make mistakes.
Christine Savage served for the match at 14-12, but Carin Gorrell missed a dink attempt to turn the ball back overto the Bobcats and Fleckenstein. The Mustangs just couldn't handle her serves.
"I told my girls that even the Olympic team couldn't get back that serve," said C. Milton Wright coach Bonnie Fry.
"It always cleared the net and it would just drop in. Usually a server likethat is not that consistent."
Fleckenstein missed just two of 16 serves in the match and served for 15 points, including seven aces.
With the victory, Bel Air (7-1 overall) remained unbeaten in five county games. The Mustangs (7-1) dropped to second in the county at 6-1.
"It's a real pleasure to win," said Bobcats coach Connie Fassett. "Many people in the county thought we could not win without the St. Claires (graduates Lisa and Dawn). But we've done OK without them. We're more diversified this year."
For both teams, 1991 is a rebuilding season. Each team has lost their big advantages, and between them they have three seniors in the starting lineups. The Bobcats have Christy Eilerman and Lisa Glenn while the Mustangs have Serena Thomson.
The Bobcats and the Mustangs showed their inexperience in the match frequently, bypassing their top hitters just to get the ball back over the net.
Each team has a talented hitter -- Bel Air sophomore Amy Findlayson and C. Milton Wright junior Kellie Reuschling. But those players had little opportunity to show off their considerable power.
Findlayson had eight kills in the match; Reuschling had six.
The Mustangs also got a solid offensive performance from Debbie Keiser, whose power is still developing although she had five kills.
Instead of a high-powered offensive match, Tuesday's match was primarily a defensive effort by both teams. Aside from a few hits, both teams' best offensive weapons were their serves.
"Bel Air's strength has always been serving and getting the ball back," said Fry.
"We got a little out of our game plan against that. Our setter was not setting as much as she should have been."
Bel Air started out strong, winning the first game and taking an 11-5 lead in the second, before the Mustangs started their rally. C. Milton Wright turned the momentum on a seven-point run highlighted by the longest rally of the match.
The Bobcats took a 13-12 lead before Gorrell closed out the game on her serve. She served one ace and got some help on Stephanie Korpela's dink and Savage's game-winning spike.
The Mustangs rode the momentum into the second game taking a 6-4 lead, but Bel Air bounced back to go up, 14-11. Reuschling then served four aces through thelast five points to give C. Milton Wright a two-games-to-one lead.
In the fourth game, Bel Air got back to its strong serving, as CaraAssalita, Jennifer Jankowski and Findlayson dropped in aces.
Fouraces were the only points Bel Air won outright. On the rest, they just returned the ball, often on the second hit, and waited for the Mustangs to make the mistakes.
In the final game, the Mustangs took a12-4 lead on Beth Burns' kill, but the Bobcats used their serves to turn the match around.