TRUMBULL ATHLETIC CONFERENCE Streak stays alive as Hubbard edges Girard in two sets
The Eagles have not lost a TAC match or game since 1992.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
GIRARD -- The Hubbard High volleyball team now has won 141 straight Trumbull Athletic Conference matches, including 282 consecutive games, since 1992 under coach Chuck Montgomery.
The Eagles kept their winning streak intact with a 15-11, 15-7 win over Girard Thursday night before a large crowd in the Indians' gym, in a showdown of undefeated squads that rank among the top teams in the state.
Hubbard (7-0, 7-0 TAC) is No. 2 in Division II, while Girard (10-1, 5-1) is No. 3 in Div. III.
The Eagles built commanding leads in both games and then repelled comeback bids by the Indians to prevail.
Hubbard's overall talent, and strong serving and defensive play, was too much for Girard to overcome, although the Indians gave a good account.
The Eagles built an 11-1 lead in the first game, before the Indians bounced back behind Tealle Hunkus to cut the deficit to 13-11. Hunkus, a line-drive hitter, had back-to-back serving aces to draw Girard within 13-8.
But after Kristen Ragozine scored for Girard to make it 13-11, Traci Hassell, helped by two blocks, delivered two serving points for Hubbard's 15-11 win.
"Blocks [by Monika Rajkovicova and Nicole Pringle] were the keys to the game and they set up the serving points by Hassell," said Montgomery, who credited sharp serving for the fast start.
"We served them tough. We have a very good serving team," he said.
Montgomery thinks Girard recovered in the first game because, "They played very well. We may have been playing tentatively."
In the second game, Hubbard shot out to a 9-3 lead before Girard rebounded to pull within 9-6. But Katy Jo Mroski gave the Eagles two serving points to rebuild the lead to 11-6. And then Kristen McMonagle, Megan Oltman, Hassell and Jessica Williams each scored, respectively, to sew up Hubbard's decision.
"We served a little tougher [than them]," said Montgomery of the second game, noting that, "[Nicole] Pringle and [Traci] Hassell are very good servers." And, "Mroski and Rajkovicova also are good servers."
Montgomery said Hubbard's size also was a factor. "We have two big girls out front, Mroski [6-foot-2] and Rajkovicova [6-1]," he pointed out.
Coach Phil Pringle of Girard said his team never has given up all season.
"Experience and letterman helped us to come back. We have been playing comeback ball all year," said Pringle.
But, "We missed a couple of good serves and they have some strong hitters."
And Pringle conceded, "Hubbard's level of play is a little above us, especially when you have Mroski and Rajkovicova."
Mroski had 19 kills, nine digs and three blocks, while Rajkovicova contributed 11 kills, three blocks and six digs, Pringle nine points, four aces and 14 assists, and Hassell seven points, 13 assists and six digs.
For Girard, Hunkus had 12 kills and seven digs, Kristen Ragozine six kills and six blocks, Erin Stevens 18 assists and Brittany Kay five digs.
Hubbard and Girard will play a rematch in October in the Eagles' final home match of the season.