COLUMBUS GROVE — It wasn’t the kind of match Crestview wanted against Columbus Grove Tuesday night in the Northwest Conference opener for both teams. The Lady Knights struggled mightily in the first two sets and couldn’t quite climb out of the hole, losing in four 25-19, 25-15, 22-25, 25-21. Grove is now 2-4 overall. Crestview is 3-3.

The hosts never trailed in the first set, riding some terrific defense and a slew of Crestview errors to its biggest lead at 18-10. The Knights battled back to get within 21-19, but the Bulldogs finished out the set with a 4-0 run — kill by senior Rylee Sybert, Crestview kill error into the net, tip kill by senior Peyton Brubaker, and another Knight error into the net.

There were three ties and two lead changes early in the second set, but the Bulldogs again pulled away, and this time Crestview never got close. Grove spread the wealth among several hitters in this one, getting kills from Brubaker, Sybert, junior Becca Choi, junior Cassie Heilman, sophomore Alayna Ricker, and senior Haley Radabaugh.

Things got a lot more interesting in third set. There were 11 ties and five lead changes, and neither team ever led by more than three points. The Crestview offense came alive with better passing, better setting, and better hitting, particularly from junior Lexi Gregory, senior Avery McCoy, junior Kaylee Wolford, and junior Lauryn Black.

At 19-all a Gregory kill from the back row got the lead. Black then ripped a kill, and, after a Grove error, scored again on a block to lead 23-19. A Bulldog kill and a Knight error had Grove within two at 23-21, but Crestview held on to take it to a fourth set.

The fourth set was back and forth early with seven ties and five lead changes. At 10-10, Sybert served an ace to get Columbus Grove a lead it would never relinquish. That lead got as big as seven at 20-13, but consecutive textbook smashes by Gregory started a 7-3 Crestview run to give the Knights a chance at 23-20. However, a Brubaker block got Grove within one point of the match, and the Dogs were able to close it out.

Lexi Gregory again racked up some big numbers with 16 kills and 23 digs, as did McCoy (9 kills, 14 assists), junior setter Maddy Lamb (19 assists, 15 digs), and Black (7 kills, 19 digs). Bailey Gregory led in digs with 24, and Wolford contributed 8 kills.