Fulton responded with three consecutive points, getting bookend kills from seniors Ann Renkes and Beiermann, but the Steamers couldn't shake the Knights.
Fieldcrest scored the nex three points, pulling even at 12 on a kill by Tessa Holland. Another Renkes kill put Fulton back on top but Fieldcrest eventually retook the lead at 15-14 on a kill by Haley Ruestman and pushed the lead to 19-16 on a kill by Petersen.
The Steamers refused to back down, though, tying it at 19-19 and again at 22-22 and 23-23, the latter two times on Fieldcrest hitting errors.
“We did not want to give up,” Leonard said. “We were playing our hardest every point.”
But a Fulton hitting error put the Knights within a point of closing out Game 1, and they finished it off on the next point on a Ruestman kill.
“It meant everything to take that momentum and finish it,” Petersen said. “If not, it would have gotten way too close for us.”
Germann said: “When they scored those last two points, we were still playing hard. They went off the block, and we were still hustling for it. They still had that fire.”
But Germann said the loss to a toll on her team that had gotten used to winning the first game during regional and sectional play.
“In Game 2, we lost a little bit of that,” she said. “They were still trying to get it, but we just couldn't finish it. We couldn't finish that pass or that hit. Offensively tonight, we couldn't do what we've been doing lately. ...
“We kind of dipped back down a little bit to our … losing a little bit of confidence. We had some lulls where they played a little scared, played a little aprehensive. I think they had a little fear, and I hadn't seen that in a long time.”