Gar-Field took a big step toward winning the Cardinal District volleyball title last night by defeating host Osbourn Park, 15-8, 14-16, 15-13, 15-9.

The Indians (14-5, 9-2), who have beaten the defending champion Yellow Jackets (12-3, 8-3) twice this season, are in at least a tie for first place depending on the outcome of last night's Woodbridge-Hylton match.

The evening began with Gar-Field, Osbourn Park and Hylton in a three-way tie for first place. The regular season schedule wraps up Thursday night, with Gar-Field hosting Stonewall Jackson and Osbourn Park traveling to Hylton.

"We played well and stayed real strong at the end of the match," Gar-Field Coach Sue Shelton said. "We didn't get down when we were down."

Gar-Field was led by junior middle hitter Julia Jackson, who finished the match with 17 kills and three blocks. Senior setter Stacey Sieske had 35 assists.

The Indians jumped out to big leads in both the third and final games only to see Osbourn Park narrow the scores. In the third game, after Gar-Field lost an 11-4 lead, Katie Cornwell put the Indians ahead 14-13 with a block at the net and then Gar-Field won the game on an Osbourn Park error.

In the fourth game, the Indians led 14-5, but the Yellow Jackets cut the lead to 14-9. Again, an Osbourn Park error ended the match.

"We're taking one step forward," Jackson said. "We're getting ready for our next game. We're not getting ready for districts, we're getting ready for Stonewall. And then we'll see who we face."

After rolling through the first half of the season undefeated, Gar-Field went into a mini-slump midway through the year. The Indians lost back-to-back matches to Hylton and Woodbridge.

"They let down a bit against Hylton and Woodbridge," Shelton said. "We'd already beaten everybody once, and we didn't get up for those matches. They were ready tonight. I was back to being nervous, but they were ready."