By the end of Monday's play-in match, Prospect senior rightside hitter Holly Hunt admitted fatigue was becoming a factor.
That's because her No. 15-seeded Knights and the No. 17 Wheeling's girls volleyball team had reached the 30s with their scores.
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Prospect led 32-31 when senior setter Bree Geweniger lofted a soft set near the net to Hunt, who drilled it to the floor to give the Knights an exhausting but satisfying 26-24, 19-25, 33-31 victory.
"Well, I was hoping I'd get the kill there," said Hunt, who finished with a team-high 8 kills and 4 blocks for the match. "I was hoping I wouldn't mess it up. We were getting real tired.
"I knew that it was going to be a close game and that everyone would have to be on, so I'm really glad we were all able to come together as a team and everyone did their best."
The Knights (13-23) advanced to today's semifinal of the Class AA Hersey regional and will face the No. 2 seeded hosts (30-5) in the 6 p.m. semifinal.
Wheeling, which was led by Jessie Zuba (7 kills), Deanna Kuzmanic (6), Amanda Mullin (5), Elizabeth Mullin (4) and Sydney Keith (3), finished the season at 11-24.
"That was very exciting," said Keith, who collected a match-high 5 blocks. "We just didn't execute at the end but we fought hard to the finish."
No team led by more than 3 points in Set 1 and it was tied 14 times.
A block by Keith gave Wheeling a 24-23 lead.
Prospect held off set point when junior Carly Thompson (6 kills, 4 blocks) put down a kill but the Wildcats won the opening set on back-to-back errors.
Wheeling kept its momentum in Set 2 and went ahead 12-5 on an ace by Kuzmanic.
But the Knights refused to call it a night.
Senior Maggie Haaning (21 assist, 61 attempts) registered 4 straight service points to get the Prospect back in contention.
The set was tied from at 14 through 18 before Prospect got the advantage on 4 straight service points, including 2 aces, from Thompson for a 22-18 lead.
Sam Loebbaka had 2 of the Knights' final 3 points on kills for the 25-19 win that set up the marathon final set.
Prospect raced ahead 5-0 in Set 3 behind the serve of Loebbaka, who had 2 aces in that stretch.
Amanda Mullin (16 assists) gave Wheeling its first lead in the set when she served three straight aces for a 16-14 edge.
The lead increased to 19-15 before Prospect tied it at 19 on a kill by Lauren Yearian.
Remarkably, the set was then tied on every number from 21 to 31 before Hunt's match winner.
Prospect coach Mike Riedy was proud of his girls effort down the stretch.
"Every match is important," Riedy said. "It's just a play-in match, but for us a season-ender. We are playing so we can continue our season.
"Up to this point, it was our most important match of the season. And (today) will be equally as important."
Senior libero Annie Geweniger played her important role in the Knights' back row with 28 digs while junior teammate Allie Skowron stepped up with 6 kills.
Senior libero Sara Kern anchored the back row for Wheeling with 16 digs.
"It was fun," said Wildcats coach Jason Kopkowski. "Both teams won. Unfortunately the results don't show that but there's nothing to be ashamed of in that effort."