Girard, Springfield set up rematch
By Eric Hamilton
SALEM — The Girard High volleyball team has lost seven matches this season and next Tuesday in the Division III district semifinals, it will have the opportunity to avenge the last one.
The Indians made quick work of Ursuline on Wednesday night to win a sectional championship and will be rewarded with a rematch with ITCL Tier One champion Springfield. The Tigers beat Girard three weeks ago in three sets.
“We’re really looking forward to that match,” said Girard’s lone senior Chelsea Guerrieri, who led the Indians with 11 kills, 10 digs and eight points. “We’ve worked hard as a team and I think it will be a really good game.”
Springfield improved to 20-1 on the season after sweeping South Range in three sets in the night’s opening match at the John A. Cabas Gymnasium.
The young Girard squad was impressive against Ursuline, jumping out to a 14-0 advantage in Game 1. The Indians coasted to a 25-5 win in that opening set.
Ursuline rallied a bit in Game 2, leading for much of the first half of the set. But Girard refocused after a timeout to turn a 13-all tie into a 25-17 triumph.
In Game 3, Girard dominated most of the way. The Irish’s last lead was at 7-6, before the Indians took an 8-7 advantage to seize control. Girard built a 19-10 cushion and went on to score a 25-14 win.
“Ursuline sort of woke up there in the second game and played better,” said Girard coach Phil Walters. “They had a couple of big players offensively that we had to keep our eye on. In the playoffs, you can’t take anyone lightly, because records don’t mean anything.
“We are going to work on some things in the next six days before we play Springfield. We need to fix some errors that we made against them the first time. We have to play clean volleyball and it will come down to who can keep the ball going the longest.”
Sophomore Bryanna Jay pounded 10 kills and blocked four shots and Morgan Walters added 21 assists, 13 points and seven aces. McKenzie Patterson had nine points, seven digs and five aces.
Springfield utilized a strong serving attack to hold rival South Range at bay. With two players using a jump serve, the Raiders had trouble passing the ball off the serve.
“It’s definitely one of our strong points,” said Springfield coach Bill Knight. “We continue to practice it and try to get better every practice. We have two girls jump serving and a third learning how. It’s just another weapon for us.
“When you can’t receive the serve and can’t pass the ball, you can’t set it up for a spike. We have a lot of experience with this group and that helps.”
With Game 1 tied at 3-all, senior Kallie Rogers served nine straight points to give the Tigers a 12-3 advantage. Springfield coasted the rest of the way to secure a 25-11 win.
Game 2 wasn’t much closer, as Springfield took control 13-5 before pulling away for a 25-10 win.
“We lost focus a little bit in the second game,” said Knight. “I called timeout at 8-4 and told them that the game isn’t over until one team hits 25. We responded after that.”
The Tigers avoided a letdown in Game 3. With the set tied at 12-all, Springfield closed things out with 13 straight points to earn a 25-12 win.
“There wasn’t as much pressure serving tonight because we were ahead a lot,” said Rogers, who finished with 12 points and 28 assists. “We relaxed a little bit too much, but realized we couldn’t do that, so we pulled it together.”
Ashley Davis added 17 digs and 11 kills for Springfield.
“We played Girard in the regular season and we know what they do and they know what we do,” said Knight. “Phil [Walters[ and I go at it and we know it will be a good match.”