Burlington Central tips Genoa-Kingston in 3

Nothing was going right for Burlington Central Tuesday night early in the deciding third set of its showdown with Genoa-Kingston for first place in the Big Northern East.

Every shot seemed to find a hole for the Cogs, who looked like they were going to take the momentum from their second set win to spoil the Rockets' Volley for the Cure night.

Led by the powerful trio of Lexie VanHiel, Megan Lomas and Summer Smith, with setter Lexi DeWaard finding all of them, the Rockets regrouped just in time. They shook off that slow 9-2 start in the third set with a 23-8 closing flourish for a 25-13, 22-25, 25-17 victory that leaves the defending champs alone in first place at 7-0, a game ahead of the 6-1 Cogs.

"That's who we are," Rockets co-coach Marv Leavitt said of falling behind. "We knew we would come back. It was whether we dug ourselves too big of a hole."

"We weren't phased at all by that," co-coach Meghan Blahnik said. "Sometimes we don't have the best start to sets. We have to crawl our way back in. We're kind of used to that."

The comeback began on a couple Genoa-Kingston mistakes. Kendall Boron and VanHiel followed with 2 kills and Lomas another in a surge that drew the Rockets even at 10.

The score was tied at 11, 12, 13 and 15 before the Rockets took their first lead on another Lomas kill. Smith hit down the line for a 17-15 lead and VanHiel tipped to make it 18-15.

"We started varying our attack," Leavitt said. "We were trying to pound everything. And then we started tipping and rolling and finding open spots and still hitting hard but mixing it up."

VanHiel served back-to-back aces to make it 21-16. Lauren Beaudin fired an ace down the line for a 23-17 lead and closed out the match with another serve the Cogs couldn't handle.

Burlington Central, who Blahnik described as a "high risk, high reward" serving team, finished with 12 aces to Genoa's 4. The aggressive serving also slowed the Cogs' strong middle attack.

VanHiel paced both teams with 15 kills, Lomas had 10 and Smith finished with 8 kills, 8 digs and 3 aces.

"Of course Lexie is our big gun but Meg had a great game and Summer," Leavitt said. "We do have a lot of balance. Our setter did a great job distributing the ball. We're very fortunate to have her transfer here."

DeWaard, who moved in from Wisconsin, totaled 34 assists and 11 digs. Rachel Gaydos led the Rockets with 13 digs, Leah Murphy had 3 aces, 9 digs and 2 kills, and Boron added 5 kills.

"G-K is the match we look forward to every year," VanHiel said. "We all knew we slumped down a little, we got a little too confident. But we pulled together and said we need to make our plays because we were all freaking out and weren't working together."

The Rockets (15-3 overall) didn't have any trouble with a slow start in the opening set. VanHiel started the match with kills for 3 of Burlington Central's first 4 points. The Rockets led 6-1 after Murphy's ace and never trailed in the set.

Genoa answered by leading for almost all of the second set. Down 12-8, the Rockets fought back to tie at 14 and took a brief 17-16 lead on Smith's jump serve ace. But Genoa quickly regained a 19-18 lead on one of six Burlington Central attack errors in the set to extend the match to a third set.

  Burlington Central's Alexanna DeWaard shoots into the defense of Genoa-Kingston's Rachel Hughes and Erika Hansel, right, Tuesday in Burlington. John Starks/
  Burlington Central's Kendall Boron watches her shot go past the Genoa-Kingston defense. John Starks/
  Burlington Central's Summer Smith reaches to tap the ball into the defense of Genoa-Kingston Tuesday in Burlington. John Starks/
  Burlington Central's Leah Murphy hits over Genoa-Kingston's defense Tuesday in Burlington. John Starks/
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