It was more suspenseful than Lees-McRae would have likely preferred, but in the end the Bobcats pulled off one of their biggest conference wins in recent program history.
Lees-McRae blew a six-point lead in the fifth game, failed on three match-point opportunities and then had to fight off two match-points from King in overtime as it rallied to beat its conference rival 25-21, 23-25, 25-27, 25-15, 18-16 on Tuesday in Banner Elk, North Carolina.
The ending to this early-season ConfCarolinas match also was marred in controversy.
Outside attacker Michael Marsans had the match-winning kill on a back-row attack attempt with officials ruling the ball hit the court in front of a King player. The Tornado coaching staff and players unsuccessfully protested the call.
Video from the live online broadcast stream of the match showed the King player possibly dug the attack attempt to extend the rally. However, teams did not have the option to use instant replay for this conference match.
Marsans in the victory finished with a match-high 25 kills on a .583 attack percentage. The all-conference outside attacker had a game-high seven kills in the final game to help the Bobcats end their 18-match losing streak to the Tornado that date back to 2014.
Lees-McRae (6-3, 3-0 ConfCarolinas) is now off to its best start in ConfCarolinas play since 2010 and has already surpassed its conference win totals from four of the last five seasons.
Setter Bradley Peters had 55 assists and guided the offense to out-hit King .330 to .190, including the Bobcats having match-best .421 attack percentage in the fourth-game victory.
Along with Marsans, outside attacker M.J. Doyle had 11 kills on a .333 attack percentage. Doyle also had an ace in the fifth-game overtime that set up the match-winning point.
Middle attacker Ace Backer contributed nine kills and had a match-high eight blocks against King (8-9, 3-1 ConfCarolinas).
Lees-McRae limited King to a negative attack percentage in each of the final two teams. The Tornado, though, almost won the fifth game with 13 of their 16 points coming off of attack errors and service errors from the Bobcats.
Outside attacker Warren Davis led King with 17 kills, while outside attacker Jackson Carroll added 11 kills.
Both King and Lees-McRae entered this match as the only two remaining undefeated teams in ConfCarolinas play. In addition, King was on a five-match winning streak with three of those victories going to decisive fifth games.