ALBION — After going back and forth with their rivals all season, Churubusco’s volleyball team fell short of a win in the sectional opener against Central Noble last week.

The Eagles fell in three close games: 25-20, 26-24, 25-20.

Churubusco jumped on Central Noble early, scoring the first points of each of the first two sets, and after falling behind 20-14, the Eagles scored six consecutive points, forcing Central Noble to take a timeout and ensure it won the first set, 25-20.

Churubusco became even more invasive in the second set, clutching onto two separate leads, the second as large as 21-16. Central Noble senior hitter Meleah Leatherman, who scored the first five Cougar points of the set, willed Central Noble to tie Churubusco 24-24 and then put two balls over the net for the set win, 26-24.

“We talked a little bit of strategy, just being smart and knowing where we’re at on the court and making smart plays with that,” Central Noble head coach Laura Scott said about the second-set deficit. “But mostly, it was that we needed to settle down a little bit. We had some rough patches tonight as a team, but we came out of them. I think that’s really really important.”

While Churubusco continued to give Central Noble trouble in the third set, the momentum from the first two sets had nearly dissipated after the comeback set victory by the Cougars. Leatherman and junior Katelyn Ayres led the way on offense for the Cougars, while seniors Rebekah Huelsenbeck and Sierra Przemielewski were strong at the net for the Eagles.