There are moments that help define a league champion, and the Newark Memorial High girls volleyball team might have had two special moments Tuesday.
In a battle of Mission Valley Athletic League unbeatens, the Cougars twice had a chance to fold when they appeared to be heading to a 2-0 deficit and again when Irvington seemed poised to win the match in the fourth game.
But both times Newark battled back, eventually forcing a fifth game and keeping alive its surprising run to first place after a 20-25, 28-26, 15-25, 25-19, 15-12 win at Irvington.
"It's amazing, and it's a good feeling for the girls," Newark Memorial coach Lindsay Simeone said. "I'm excited, and they're excited. We've always been competitive, and now we're coming out on top."
The Cougars (13-5, 5-0 MVAL) battled back from a deficit to win an ultra-competitive second game, then really showed grit in the fourth game.
Following a big defeat in the third game and facing a 14-10 deficit in the fourth game, Newark scored 15 of the final 21 points in game four and then started the fifth on a 5-2 run as Carley Ward ended the match with her third block of the fifth game.
"We fight until the end," Simeone said. "There is a lot of fight in these girls."
The Cougars held off a valiant effort by Irvington (12-6, 4-1 MVAL), in particular from Danielle Carothers and Laura Hubacek. Carothers had 21 assists, 15 kills and three blocks, and Hubacek had 19 kills. But 32 combined kills by Ni'Yesha Brown and Bailey Gamez offset that effort.
Dublin d. Acalanes: Tiffany Harris produced 17 kills, and teammate Emma Neckar added 15 kills and 15 assists as the Gaels edged the visiting Dons 25-15, 23-25, 25-17, 20-25, 16-14 in Diablo Foothill Athletic League action. Dublin improved to 12-4 overall and 3-2 in the DFAL.
Amador Valley 196, Monte Vista 204: The Dons (12-3, 10-1 East Bay Athletic League) had all five scorers between one-under par and five-over to edge the Mustangs (4-7 EBAL) at Callippe Preserve Golf Course in Pleasanton.
The Dons' Kimberly Liu was the medalist with a 1-under par 35. Hailey White paced Monte Vista with a 37. Kelly Shotwell posted a 39 for Amador Valley.