ARCOLA – Forgive the Arthur High School volleyball players if they don't recall the Lancers' last Little Okaw Valley Conference volleyball championship.
They hadn't even started school yet.
Arthur ended a 13-year drought Thursday, upending top-seeded Tri-County 25-13, 19-25, 25-19 in the title match at Arcola High School.
The Lancers followed their first-set triumph by building a 9-2 lead in the second set. Tri-County not only regrouped to force a tiebreaking set but also surged ahead 4-0 in the finale on four consecutive service aces by Sadie Baird.
Arthur coach Val Cornwell remained positive.
"We talked about not letting anything break your spirit," she said, "continuing to push forward and believing in yourself."
With contributions from all nine players who took the court, the Lancers (13-9) se- cured their third LOVC volleyball crown, following up on the back-to-back titles from 1995-96.
"We had to keep our mistakes to a minimum and our energy up," said senior Katie Davis, who swatted a match-high 11 kills.
In the face of adversity, Davis said the players remained composed.
"Coach is serious, but in the team huddle, we're laughing and having fun," said Davis, who will remember more than winning the title.
"This is the only year my little sister (sophomore Hannah) and I get to play on the same team," she said. "That makes it more special."
Hannah Davis had two kills and an ace.
Katie Chapman handed out 17 assists, freshman Ashley Tabb had 10 digs, Amanda Phelps pounded eight kills and Allison Chancellor provided a third-set spark with three straight aces after the Titans created an 11-11 tie.
From a previous loss to Tri-County (13-10), Cornwell said her team learned "where they hit, how to set our defense and who we thought might struggle for them," she said.
More importantly, she added, "we had great team hustle tonight."
Lindsey Apple and Emma Getche each had six kills to lead Tri-County.
Third-place match. Cerro Gordo (13-6) took control from the outset against an LOVC opponent it had not yet played this season, scoring 18 of the first 21 points. The Broncos went on to a 25-6, 25-19 sweep against Okaw Valley.
"I was afraid they'd come in disappointed because we really wanted to play in the championship," said CG coach Dana Tinkle, whose squad lost a semifinal match Wednesday to her alma mater, Arthur, "but it showed me a lot that they didn't."
Tara Phelps had six of her team-high eight kills in the first set. Haley Witts had a match-high 21 assists.
"She had to be more of an offensive threat this week with players out," Tinkle said. "She did an excellent job."
Morgan Neissle had 12 digs, and Stephanie Gaitros, who was sick and missed the semifinal match, had four blocks.
Consolation championship. Martinsville overcame a standout second-set performance from sophomore Mariah Coleman to sweep Heritage 25-17, 25-23. Coleman had seven kills and four blocks in the final set.
After Martinsville built an 18-10 lead in the second set, Coleman's prowess accounted for six points as the Hawks closed to within 24-23.
"They don't quit fighting, but we weren't mentally ready tonight," Heritage coach Brad Dalton said. "We have to realize we have to bring it all the time."
After an 0-9 start this season, Dalton didn't know what to expect.
"For a while, I was wondering if we'd turn it around," said Dalton, whose team is 8-16.
Coleman finished with nine kills and five blocks. Teammate Jenna Wyant had four kills and a block.