ST. JOHN | Heading into Thursday's Duneland Athletic Conference showdown, Lake Central hadn't lost this year at home and Crown Point's seniors hadn't lost to the Indians in four years.
Somewhere the volleyball gods had to give.
It wasn't in Lake Central's offense.
Lake Central junior Brooke Renner had 15 kills, including the last one of the match, as the Times No. 3 Indians pulled away with a 25-20, 23-25, 25-14, 27-29, 15-13 marathon win over the No. 2 Bulldogs.
With a postseason feel, the game featured more blocking than both teams had seen most of the year.
To maintain the lead in the conference, that was precisely Lake Central's game plan.
"We've been working really hard on our blocking; we put a lot of emphasis on aggressive serving and taking a lot of momentum off of serving," Indians coach Tina Tinberg said. "When you can block a ball back into a court, it's invigorating for your team and deflating for a hitter. The same thing with acing on that first serve. If you ace a serve it's a quick point without a rally, and those are invaluable."
Her top players were a combined 36-of-43 blocking with Alyssa Stepney leading the way at 29-of-31.
Crown Point, which roared back in the fourth game after a five-point deficit to force Game 5, did so thanks to three consecutive block assists from Abby Kvachkoff, who finished with nine.
"There was a lot of blocking in this game," Bulldogs coach Alison Duncan said. "Lake Central is always a big match for us. They're a big rivalry. Every match we've played with them for the last four years has been like this."
After taking the OT Game 4, Crown Point seemingly had the advantage to the fifth game, reaching the 10-point mark first. A serving error with the 10-8 advantage followed by a 5-2 run by the Indians turned the game around.
"Away, you never know what's going to happen when you go to five away, especially with a lot of people in the stands," Duncan said. "I was happy that we came out and got that benchmark to 10, then we had a couple of unforced errors and that was it."
Alyssa Kvarta led the Bulldogs (13-7, 5-4) with 40 assits and 10 block assists while Meagan Fajman had 10 kills and Taylor Sabato chpped in 18 digs.
Tori Gardenhire had 13 kills and four blocks for the Indians (16-6, 8-1) and Stephanie Spigolon added 24 assists. Dani Ellis had a team-high 17 digs.
"This was an important win for us," Tinberg said. "It's a great conference to play in because it's fabulous preparation because of the high level. I'm so proud of the total team effort."