MARION -- It seemed like a lost cause, but it wasn't.
The Marion High School volleyball team needed one more point to put away pesky Anna-Jonesboro in Tuesday's match at Cuss Wilson Gymnasium and it looked a tied score was upcoming when a ball went sailing toward the far bleachers.
But senior libero Jordan Turner somehow tracked it down and sent it back toward the court, where senior setter Kaylee Evans literall knocked a teammate out of her way in order to send the ball backward over to the other side.
Anna-Jonesboro now had the ball but with the gym erupting at the hustle play, an errant pass was punched into the net -- Kylie Plant was ready to pound it down if it hadn't -- and ended Marion's dramatic 25-23, 26-24 victory.
"The last point summed up the night for us," said Marion coach Beth Mitacek, whose team improved to 2-1. "The night was full of grit and hustle and we just didn't quit."
It didn't look good for the hosts early as A-J scored the first three points and held a seemingly-comfortable lead until Marion's Ivy Smart served eight straight points, turning a deficit into a 21-18 advantage.
Plant had several monster kills, Smart served an ace and McKenzie Orange had a key kill in that stretch. Jackie Drury also served a big ace in the first game.
"I think we came out slow and tight and nervous but we definitely cleaned it up," Mitacek said. "Once we got into the swing of things we turned it on from there."
Most of Plant's kills in the first game came from the left side, but she also pounded down one from the right side to bring up game point. She then moved to the service line and Smart sent down a boomer that wasn't touched.
"I'm impressed with the way we hung in there and came back," Mitacek said. "After the first eight points, it looked like it was going to be a long night. But the girls showed a lot of character."
The second game was tight throughout. A kill by Orange put Marion up 24-22, but Anna-Jonesboro's net defense blocked Plant to tie it.
Plant answered with a slick corner shot, then Turner served what proved to be the final point -- after she went even beyond the service line for the save of the night.
"I think she even had two hands on it," Mitacek said. "She's fast. She went over there and I was afraid nobody was following close enough behind her but we got there. Kaylee sent that third ball over to keep us going."
Plant finished with 18 kills, 13 digs and two aces, while Orange added five kills and two blocks. Smart and Amelia Stotlar chipped in three kills each and Kaylee Evans had 23 assists. Turner had 18 digs but got help from Plant, Tori Evans (12 digs) and Daishen Wolaver (10 digs).
"Our serve receive helped us tremendously," Mitacek said. "We were in our offensive system most of the time. When we can set anyone we want in the flow of the game, that makes a huge difference. The girls back there are doing a great job and it allows our hitters to do what they're doing."
Marion travels to Belleville Althoff on Thursday to begin South Seven Conference play and participates in the Southern Illinois Preview Tournament on Saturday in Carbondale. The Lady Wildcats will open in Pool B at 9 a.m. against Centralia, Highland and Salem with hopes of moving to the championship crossover bracket.