By Brandon Judeh
Coming into Tuesday night’s Division III volleyball sectional semifinal the Girard Indians wanted nothing more than to upset Springfield, but few gave the Indians that chance.
Luckily for Girard games aren’t played on paper.
The Indians used a “nothing to lose” attitude and knocked the No. 5 seed out with a 3-2 victory to move on to the finals.
“I know my team and I know that they are better than what their record indicates,” said Girard head coach Phil Walters. “Our biggest problem this season was beating the player in the mirror, our girls have been getting better as of late and fortunately they put a complete game together tonight.”
Down 2-1, after grabbing a 1-0 lead, the Indians (4-19) looked as if their season was dwindling down, but most of the Indians players knew the pressure was on Springfield.
“Before the game one of my assistant coaches asked me if I was nervous, I told her I have been doing this too long to get nervous,” Walters said. “I think we all kind of knew that the pressure was on them, they were the five seed, we only had three wins, they were expected to win.”
The Indians rushed the court after their 15-12 fifth game victory; the Tigers (16-6) were in disbelief.
“Personally I felt the pressure,” said Girard senior Justine Palmer. “I’m a senior so this could have easily have been my final game, but the girls really rallied together and put together a great game.”
Springfield head coach Bill Knight says he thinks his players felt the weight of the game in the final set.
“I think there was a lot of pressure on our kids, I asked them how many had been here before and five or six raised their hand,” said Knight. “Obviously this is sad for us, but good for Girard. I wish them luck in the next round.”
Girard jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after pulling away late 25-22, but the Tigers would roar back in sets two and three.
The Tigers woke up in the second set as they dominated in route to a 25-16 win, but once again the Indians would make things interesting.
In the third set Girard hung tight throughout, but a 7-2 run to close out the set gave Springfield a 25-19 win and put the Indians backs against the wall.
“Coach told us to keep playing strong and clean up our errors because we know what we are doing, we just needed to show it,” added Palmer.
Girard did just that, stunning the Tigers and their fans 25-21 and grabbing the momentum in the process.
Leading the way for Springfield were Morgan Buchenic with 16 kills and six blocks, Elizabeth Thompson chipped in with 17 points and 13 assists.
Girard’s Shymara Dykes had 10 kills and 12 blocks while Taylor Bell contributed with 11 digs and seven kills.