By BOB CRAMER
Yukon High School senior outside hitter Brianna Worth played like there would be no tomorrow in the Millers’ volleyball match with No. 6-ranked Deer Creek.
As it turned out, there wasn’t.
Worth and five senior teammates, playing their last home match, saved the finest performance of the season for Tuesday night’s finale.
Worth pounded 28 kills at Deer Creek, but the Antlers rallied to win the rollercoaster outing 25-15, 19-25, 16-25, 25-20, 18-16 before about 200 fans.
“Game of her life,” Yukon coach Rachel Allred said of Worth’s effort. “She made plays tonight … I don’t know how she made them.”
No. 15 Yukon (11-17) lost its ninth straight outing.
The regional tournament begins Tuesday.
Deer Creek coach Lisa Polcovich spent most of the evening trying to motivate her team. After her timeouts, she often could be heard loudly exhorting the Antlers in huddles.
“It being Yukon’s last home match, I think their seniors just wanted to win it,” Polcovich said. “I guarantee that’s the best they’ve played this season.
“We came in too relaxed. We weren’t prepared mentally or physically. But hats off to Yukon, they served well and Bri (Worth) and Addi (Wimmer) hit well.”
Deer Creek (23-7) won its fifth consecutive match and for the 13th time in 14 matches in its last regular-season match.
In two victories over five sets earlier in the season, Deer Creek had totally dominated the Millers. But this night, the Antlers would be in Yukon’s crosshairs.
With Yukon leading 16-15 in the fifth set, it appeared the Millers had scored and won.
But Polcovich let out a loud scream and drew a yellow card from the officials for missing the call on an over-the-net infraction — it was an obvious call, Allred said.
The point was taken away from Yukon, and Deer Creek scored the next three points to avert defeat.
In the fourth set, Yukon had the momentum and several one-point leads, the last at 17-16 on a Worth kill. That’s when the Antlers upped their game and captured the set, finishing with a 9-3 flourish. What changed?
“Besides me yelling more in the huddle,” Polcovich quipped. “When our backs were against the wall, that’s when our girls decided we had to start fighting.”
Allred explained how Deer Creek raised its competitive level.
“The third set, they had a lot of self-inflicted errors,” she said about the Antlers. “We knew that fourth set, they would give us a lot less points.”
Outside hitter Teagan Polcovich paced the Antlers with 20 kills and 21 digs. She is the coach’s daughter.
Libero Madison Manning contributed 20 digs, and setter Cameron Turner had 42 assists for Deer Creek.
For Yukon, outside hitter Addison Wimmer had 10 kills and five aces, libero Baylie Thiel hit four aces, middle blocker Katie Clark made five blocks and setters Hattie Hughs and Kashlei Vo chipped in 30 and 17 assists, respectively.
Allred feels confident the Millers can compete against the top teams in the postseason.
“Even though it’s a loss on paper and in the records,” Allred said, “the mentality is there that we can beat and compete with the top teams if we’re focused and playing to win instead of just survive.”
Hughs, defensive specialists Gabbi Mobarak and Chloe Kane, hitter Haley Kusik, Thiel and Worth were Yukon seniors playing their final home match.