By PATRICK SLACK
Each student section was declaring victory in the third set.
An hour later, as the dust finally cleared in a raucous rivalry setting, Little Falls scraped past Pierz by the narrowest of margins, Monday, eluding the host Pioneers 25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 24-26, 17-15.
The night started with the Flyers erasing an early 8-3 deficit to take the first set, then maintaining a comfortable lead to go up 2-0.
The Pioneers were not about to go quietly, however, coming back from down 7-3 to take the third set, keeping their hopes alive heading into the fourth.
It looked as if the rally would end there, as Little Falls built up a 21-13 advantage, but Pierz staged an improbable comeback, winning 13 of the next 15 points to go ahead 24-23.
The Flyers staved off one set point to tie the score, but the Pioneers picked up the final two to force a decisive fifth set.
Little Falls put itself in a favorable position early once again, going on top 9-5, only for Pierz to recover and eventually earn a match point at 14-13.
It was then the Flyers turn to escape trouble, fighting off a match point before finally closing out the battle with a 17-15 fifth-set win.
Junior Kendra Pohlman led the Flyers in kills (12), set assists (19) and digs (22), with senior Sierra Virnig slamming 11 kills, senior Jennifer Ronning and sophomore Melanie Dorn each adding seven and senior Brooke Finch contributing four.
Virnig also had 21 digs, Finch had 17 and senior Tristen Zimmerman picked up 16, with Dorn distributing 18 set assists.
Senior Bridget Bednar blasted 20 kills and senior Tiara Hopkins hit 19 to power the Pierz offense, with juniors Kayla Carter, Jessica Hawks and Raychel Virnig each posting five and junior Kendra Fischer adding three. Hawks also set up the offense with 42 assists.
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