Looking almost lifeless early on in another deciding five-set war with their Harbor Area neighbors, the San Pedro High girls volleyball team was seemingly left for dead, and Banning of Wilmington was just one point away from defeating the Pirates for the first time in their history.
Then, as if almost by some sheer force of will, what seemed impossible, was made possible.
It was a comeback for the ages.
Staring a 14-8 deficit in the face, San Pedro would go on an 8-1 run to reverse Banning's match point into a match point for themselves, and fought off a spirited effort from the Pilots to eventually pull out a dramatic, and extremely exciting 25-19, 24-26, 25-19, 13-25, 18-16 Marine League victory, capping off perhaps the most unlikeliest of comeback victories in the history of all sports at San Pedro High, not just girls volleyball.
Talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
"That was the best match ever," Peterson excitedly proclaimed.
The comeback got all started with a kill from senior outside hitter Amber Ruiz, who had two other kills mixed in with a kill from fellow senior outside hitter Katie Sullivan and three attack errors from Banning, two match-saving digs by junior outside hitter Paige Peterson in a pivotal rally would stake the Pirates (6-4 overall, 5-3 in league) to tie the match at 14-14 with another kill from Ruiz.
Banning would briefly go up 15-14, but the lead would seesaw back to the Pirates after a kill by junior opposite hitter Kirsten Bauman tied up the match again, and Peterson tooling a kill off the block attempt from the Pilots put San Pedro back ahead to stay at 16-15. The two teams traded points, then a critical attack error from Banning sophomore outside hitter Katie Guimary would dramatically end the match.
"We really fought hard," San Pedro junior middle blocker Julia Sampson said. "I'm very proud."
Sullivan had 11 kills and 14 digs for San Pedro, and Peterson had 21 digs, two kills and an ace. Ruiz finished with eight kills, three digs and two blocks, Bauman chipped in with six kills, three digs and a block, junior setter Jazmin Tela had 14 digs and four aces, junior setter Jessica Utley had 13 assists, 7 digs and two kills, and junior libero Reanna Pele had 18 digs for the Pirates in a well-balanced effort all around.
The play of freshman setter Katie Bentojova during that remarkable rally was also crucial for the Pirates.
Senior setter Vanessa Ruiz added five aces as well for San Pedro, who also had to sweat out an earlier five-set victory at Banning back on September 23. The Pirates dominated the fifth set of that matchup from start to finish, but Banning and head coach Sam Tejada, the former San Pedro coach, were primed and ready for a big-time upset.
"I am so glad we came back and won," Sullivan said.
Junior setter Noelani Boyer had six kills, 26 assists, two blocks and five aces to pace the Pilots (5-9, 3-4).
With this remarkable victory, that should provide the Pirates with a shot of confidence and a whole lot of momentum heading into their next match on Monday at Marine League-leading Narbonne of Harbor City.