QUINCY -- A kill by Hannah Beeler in the third set put the Quincy High School volleyball team ahead 10-6 during Monday's match.
It also fired up Blue Devils coach Tiffaney Rains, who screamed at her team while pumping her fists.
That kill seemed to finally light a fire under the Blue Devils.
A 10-point serving run by sophomore Emma Sparrow sparked a final surge that Rains called "close to the best we've played" this season, and QHS pulled away to defeat United Township 25-17, 24-26, 25-10 in a Western Big Six Conference match in the QHS gymnasium.
"That was my team out there," Rains said about the third set. "Our passing totally changed. We've been saying we need to speed up our offense, and (setter De'Onna Douglas) was putting the ball right where the hitters wanted it. Our energy was crazy.
"These girls know what they need to do. We tell them the same things over and over, and when they do it, it clicks and looks beautiful."
It wasn't very pretty at times on Monday.
"I'd rather remember the last 15 points," Beeler said. "We're not normally the team that played the first 21/2 sets."
United Township hadn't won a set in its first five matches, and it was down 9-1 in the first set and seemed primed to get blown out by the Blue Devils. The Panthers got as close as 12-10 before losing the set, but it led most of the second set as Quincy committed 12 passing or hitting errors.
The Blue Devils, however, led 24-23 and were serving to close the match, but Panthers middle hitter Jade Hunter outfought the Blue Devils' Mackenzie Klingele for two balls at the net -- one for a kill, one for a block. Hunter then served an ace for the final point, setting off quite a celebration. It's the first set victory over a Quincy team in the past three seasons.
"That's a win in our books," Panthers coach Jillian Van Opdorp said. "It brought a whole different level into their mental planning, thinking they know they can beat Quincy."
The discussions on the QHS bench before the third set were tinged with frustration.
"We just weren't talking, and no one had any energy," Beeler said. "We weren't playing together.
"It wasn't very good over there."
United Township led 4-2 in the third set when Alexis Wolf served seven straight points for the Blue Devils (7-7, 2-1 WB6). The Panthers regrouped and got back to within 10-8.
A kill by Kayla Hoener earned Quincy a side out, and Sparrow took over with her serve. Hoener added two more kills in the run, Klingele had a block and a kill, and the Panthers committed five hitting errors.
A kill by Beeler, a service ace by setter De'Onna Douglas and two errors by United Township closed the match.
"I told them after the game, ‘I hope you girls realize what you had out there is what you should be doing all the time. You shouldn't settle for anything less than that,'" Rains said.
"That's the potential I've seen so much of. There's not a team we've played yet that should beat us if we're at that level."
Wolf didn't play in any of Quincy's three losses at the North Scott Tournament in Iowa last weekend, but she returned to the lineup Monday to tie Hoener for the team lead with eight kills. Sparrow had six kills, and Beeler had five. Eanna DeGuzman had 32 digs.
Hunter had six kills and five blocks for the Panthers, and Madison Meldrum had five kills.
Van Opdorp's only regret was her team's slow start.
"If we didn't get down so low in the first set, I think we would have won in two tonight," she said.