Down two sets and losing by as much as 10 points in the third game, things were looking bleak for the Lady Warriors.
Having worked so hard to reach the semifinals and come close to their dream of playing in a CIF championship, it appeared that Independence was poised for the upset and signal in a final four exit for Mountain Volleyball for the second straight season.
But the strong-willed Tehachapi girls were not done yet, coming back from a 13-3 deficit in the third set to orchestrate an improbable victory, 20-25, 21-25, 25-21, 25-18, 15-11.
"Up to that third set our team was not in sync and we did not adjust to their tips. We finally started playing together and with a determination to claw our way up," said head coach Sheri Dees. "We told them that this would be their last set of the season if they did not step it up."
Tehachapi went on a 17-7 run, tying the game at 20-20 on a Destiny Julye stuff block and then closing out the rest of the set on a 5-1 run to stay alive in the match.
In the fourth game, the Lady Warriors went on an impressive 7-1 advantage after the match was tied at 11-11, eventually winning to line up a winner-take-all fifth set.
"We (told the girls) to never give up and to believe in each other," added Dees. "It was an unbelievable comeback, but we have known all season long the potential inside each of these 12 young ladies."
Elayna Cramer recorded four of her 13 match kills to help Tehachapi to a 15-11 fifth set win, much to the delight of the THS home crowd that was feverishly cheering every winning point.
"Thank goodness we were at home. Our crowd played a huge part in this momentum shift. This is the beautiful thing about our school and community; we do not surrender easily," said Dees.
As a team, Tehachapi logged 63 kills, the most kills ever recorded in one game by a Lady Warrior volleyball team. The previous high was 60 kills, which occurred in a 2011 in a 3-2 match win over Taft. Mountain Volleyball also set a new team record for kills in a season, surpassing the 2009 record of 1,132. This year's Warriors leapfrogged the 2009 record with 1,135 kills after the Independence win.
Individual leaders in the match included Julye with 32 kills, six digs and four blocks, Cramer with 13 kills and Kim Smith with 10 kills and three blocks. Brooklynn Cheney also added five kills and two aces, Kendall Kapitzke had 12 digs, three aces and three blocks, Samantha Wallace had 56 assists and five digs and Maddie Orellana had eight digs. Kelsey Schoenberg and Miranda Wert also had four digs each.
"The crowd never stopped cheering, even when we were down, 13-3. It was a very powerful and uplifting thing. Our stands picked us up on their shoulders and helped carry us across the finish line," said Dees.
Flashback to 2007
Last week's final four match was a reminder of a thrilling comeback win by the Lady Warriors over Yosemite in the 2007 CIF semifinals. Down two sets and facing elimination, the Lady Warriors came back from a 24-19 deficit in the third set to win six straight points en route to a 3-2 match victory. The team went on to play Hanford in the CIF Division III championship, clinching their second finals appearance in three years.