For the fifth time since 2015, San Pedro and Narbonne went the distance, and just like the previous four, it was the Pirates who would come out on top with a spectacular 33-35, 25-13, 25-21, 23-25, 18-16 victory in the Marine League opener for both schools. San Pedro had to not only overcome a disheartening loss in the opening set which nearly lasted 45 minutes, but also had to fight off match point five times after trailing 14-11 in the final set to come from behind and prevail.
There wasn't much that rattled San Pedro (11-2 overall) even when it seemed like the Gauchos (9-11) would finally get the last laugh.
"When the score started to get tight, we started to panic and get irritated a little bit," San Pedro senior outside hitter Sara Peterson said. "But we were able to keep our composure and keep the game nice and simple as we were going through point by point."
Peterson, who has always stepped her game up in crucial moments against Narbonne throughout her prep career, would have arguably her greatest match to date with a career-high 26 kills to go with nine digs and an ace as San Pedro would follow up two five-set thrilling wins over Narbonne just last season alone (including the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Open Division seventh place match) both on the road with this stellar home win.
San Pedro quickly regrouped after the narrow first set loss with a surprisingly easy second set win.
"We stayed in that first set for an extra ten points, and even though we lost it, there was a momentum when all of us just had to step back and look at the good that had come out of it," San Pedro senior middle blocker Lauren Sutrin said. "They were tired and we were determined, especially after seeing we could hang for such a long fight."
San Pedro would hold off Narbonne in the third set when a rotation error on the Gauchos gave the Pirates game point, but the fourth set looked like it would be the end of the match when Peterson's lone service ace gave San Pedro a 23-20 lead, but the Gauchos stormed back with five unanswered points to force the decisive fifth set.
A booming ace from junior outside hitter Isabella Emerson would stake the Pirates to an early 2-0 lead, but Narbonne was relentless in their attack and eventually would take a 14-11 lead... then Peterson happened.
First, a scorching shot from Peterson barely landed fair inside the right corner to avoid what would have been a match-ending attack error. Another kill from Peterson followed by an attack error evened the tense fifth set at 14. After a Narbonne side out put them at match point a second time, a timely kill from senior middle blocker Sosha Williams tied it up at 15. Peterson's ensuing attack error put the Pirates on the brink of losing again before Sutrin's timely block drawn the Pirates back to a 16-16 deadlock.
Finally, the Pirates had just enough left to put Narbonne away.
A sneaky dump down by sophomore setter Gabriella Edwards past the double block attempt led to a Narbonne net violation for the 17-16 San Pedro lead, and then a match-ending ace from junior defensive specialist Georgie Smith set off loud chorus of jubilation for the Pirates.
"I had no doubt that we would be able to come back and win (the fifth set)," Smith said. "After coming back from a successful two-day (Venice) tournament I learned this team knows how to fight and push through sets that are not always in our favor."
Sutrin would finish with nine kills, five aces and two blocks for San Pedro, who got more viable contributions from the likes of Williams (seven kills, three blocks), Emerson (eight kills, nine digs, two aces), Smith (12 digs, two aces) and senior libero Hanna Gurrola who had 22 kills and two aces. Edwards finished with 48 assists, six digs, two aces and the all-important kill to set up match point in the decisive frame.
San Pedro will next visit Marine League newcomer Rancho Dominguez Prep of Carson/Long Beach on Thursday.