Oh, how the tide has turned.
From hunters to now the hunted, the Flashes slipped past Edison, 3-2 on Tuesday at Edison Park. Willard picked up its 35th consecutive victory in Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division action.
"It was a high intense, stressful match," said Willard coach Josh Bauerle, whose team improved to 10-3 overall and 7-0 in the SBC Bay. "That is the stuff we look forward to. That is why we circle Edison on our schedule every year. Obviously, there are other tough teams that we have to come to play for, but we know Edison is going to be a dogfight every time."
Bauerle noted that the streak has become a program incentive led by the seniors.
"Now the pressure is on with each match," Bauerle said. "The cool thing is last year's seniors got the streak started — and now they passed it off to this year's seniors. Now, they hopefully keep it going the rest of the year."
With the contest tied at 2-2, it came down to the first doubles match. Willard's Whitney Robinson and Kennedy Daub slugged past Kaylee Ries and Torri Keyser in a first set tiebreaker, 7-6 (5). Ries and Keyser started the second set strong, leading 4-2, and they also had a break point on Willard's serve.
But, Robinson and Daub bounced back to hold, then broke the Edison serve twice to take the second set, 6-4, and give the Flashes the match.
"Edison's doubles stepped up to make it a heck of a match," Bauerle said. "We very easily could have went down 5-2 in that second set. We kept battling and getting the ball back. The girls did not have their best stuff, but they found a way. That is what I love about our team. We are tough and find a way to win."
Nathalie Van Zoest picked up a nice win at third singles for Willard. She took down Alli Vogus, 6-2, 6-2.
"To be honest, I was extremely nervous for this match," Van Zoest said. "This is the match I was most nervous for my entire career."
The other win for the Flashes came at second doubles. Becca Slone and Kalli Sowers defeated Emily Moore and Lindsey Kowalski, 6-3, 6-3.
"It was a great match and I was happy with the way the girls performed tonight," Edison coach Ryan Meredith said. "We came back. It was a close one."
Edison (9-3, 6-2) had both of its two wins come in singles action. Jayla Medina blew past Addy Paxton at first singles, 6-1, 6-1. Emily Vogus then took it to Ella Schag at second singles, 6-0, 6-3.
"Willard has a strong team," Meredith said. "They have a lot of strong senior leaders. We are young and coming up. I have a couple seniors and we are getting better, too."
Van Zoest noted the work in the off-season has continually helped the Flashes this season.
"I feel like we have handled the winning streak well," Van Zoest said. "Each and every one of us have put in work in the off-season. We deserve this."
With 35 straight wins in the conference, a large target comfortably rests on the shoulders of the Willard players.
"We noticed that pressure last year," Bauerle said. "It is a different feeling going from underdog to the favorite that everyone is after. We accept that bullseye on our back."
Willard still has a lot of work to do to claim the regular season Bay division title. The Flashes have seven more league matches, starting with a doubleheader against Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic today.
"I did not think the first match (3-2 Willard win on Aug. 22) could get any closer than that," Bauerle said. "Somehow, this match beat it. Edison gave us every single thing they had and we snuck away."