There was just one steal left in the coaches' arsenal as battle rounds wrapped up Tuesday on "The Voice," and Usher was saving it for somebody he'd wanted since the blind auditions: Alaskan belter and would-be law student Cierra Mickens.
Before she got her chance to wind up on Team Usher, though, came a series of high-stakes match-ups with less lucky losers.
A Team Adam battle with soft-spoken indie chanteuse Sam Behymer on Ed Sheeran's "Give Me Love" saw Wyoming country singer Cary Laine ousted from the competition. Adam paid tribute to them both for venturing outside their comfort zones but chose Sam as the winner, citing the "trouble and power and emotion" in her voice.
And a Team Blake pairing of pop-rock belter Kaleigh Glanton and throwback crooner Noah Lis on a Michael Buble's "Everything" may have seemed heavily weighted in Noah's favor, given his Buble-style smooth sound and the way his eyes lit up when their coach told them their assignment. But Kaleigh's discomfort the song pushed her toward an impressive performance. Usher picked Noah the bout's winner, even as he decried Noah's performance as "too lounge" and "a bit much," but Blake handed the battle victory to Kaleigh.
No save came for Noah, nor did one for three other pairings shown in a brief montage Tuesday. Team Adam's teen YouTube belter Christina Grimmie beat out Joshua Howard, Team Blake's Ryan White Maloney beat out Cali Tucker and Team Shakira's Kristen Merlin beat out fellow country singer Lindsay Bruce for the chance to remain on "The Voice."
It was only in the night's final battle, courtesy of two very different Team Shakira power vocalists, that a losing performer would get a reprieve in the form of the battle rounds' sole surviving steal, thanks to Usher.
Paired on the Sara Bareilles hit "Brave," Cierra and brain surgery survivor Emily B both struggled at first with the song's rhythm. But as they neared the end of their performance, they both riffed on the song's melody with appropriate courage and hit its big notes with gusto.
The coaches were split on whose big note wowed them more, but ultimately a reluctant Shakira named Emily the winner -- leaving all her fellow coaches to look expectantly to Usher, who indeed pressed his button to grab Cierra for his own team.
"God blessed you with incredible talent," he told her, adding, "there's something that I see in Cierra that I want the world to be a part of. She's got dedication to what she's doing."
Next week, another battle round begins on "The Voice," with guest mentor Chris Martin of Coldplay stepping in to help all the contestants perfect their performances.
"The Voice" airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c.