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Girard shuts out Fitch in seventh straight-set victory of the year

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes. The Girard volleyball team celebrates after scoring a point against Austintown Fitch on Monday night. The Indians topped the Falcons 3-0 to improve their record to 12-2 this season.

GIRARD — For some, the volleyball matchup between Austintown Fitch and Girard was one to circle on the calendar.

Both teams have enjoyed successful seasons so far and Monday evening offered the opportunity for both teams to test themselves as September slowly comes to a conclusion.

The Indians offensive attack was just too much for the Falcons and Girard completed a 3-0 sweep of their visitors to improve their overall record to 12-2 on the fall.

It was Girard’s fourth straight win.

“We slowed down their attack as well as I could have asked for,” said Girard coach Phil Walters. “We’re an undersized team, we play a team like that, that’s much bigger than us, if we can put a hand in their face and just slow the ball up a little bit and let our defense do its work, that’s a beautiful thing.”

Girard, who won the three games by scores of 25-18, 25-14, 25-22, showed its experience throughout the course of the evening by earning early set leads and never having to worry about playing from behind. With six seniors on their roster, the Indians knew they had to jump on a younger Fitch team that starts a pair of freshmen.

“It’s huge, when we have a high lead, we stick with it and we like to play tough and hard. Just finish out the game, play as hard as we can,” said senior setter Allison Durkin. “We have a really strong back row, we like to play hard. With our back row it’s easy to set my offense up, so I give a lot of credit to the back row. I put the ball where it needs to be and my hitters do the work.”

Up 23-21 during a timeout in the final set, Walters leveled his team a bit, regrouping them after the Falcons desperately tried to extend the match beyond three sets.

“Just try to slow up their serve a little bit, let our kids think a little bit about what they’re doing. A few of the errors that we’re making, correct them, and then come back and play some volleyball,” said Walters.

It’s Girard’s seventh time this season that they’ve won by way of straight sets. Durkin had 29 assists, junior Bree Latell added 16 kills with a pair of aces and a block. Senior Lauren Pallone tallied 13 kills, while Bailey Walters tacked on four aces.

Switching from a 6-2 set to a 5-1 offense, Girard has found success throughout the fall with an offense that can drill the ball over the net, making defense a chore on the other side.

“It’s crazy, it’s so fun and my adrenaline is always rushing and it’s just the best feeling,” said Latell as a hitter. “It’s definitely intimidating going into the third because they can come back and win the next three, but I’m glad that we kept pushing and finished it until the end. We told our blockers to make sure we’re on the hitters and stay on them.

“Know they hit straight down, so if we get touches then we can pick them up and get the ball back.”

Austintown Fitch drops to 12-2 themselves, with senior Jocelyn Jourdan posting a stat line of 13 kills, 2 aces and 6 digs, as well as freshmen Kylie Folkwein adding 8 kills, 6 digs and 2 aces. Freshmen Rylie Simons tallied 27 assists.

“I told my girls they outplayed us on offense, we were not where we needed to be defensively to be able to play the ball back,” said Falcons coach Jody Bartlett. “If you can’t get those passes up, you can’t set the ball, you can’t hit the ball like you need to, and the girls were starting to play a little tense early on.

“As badly as we wanted to win this, sometimes it’s good that you learn. You have to learn from what we didn’t do and need to improve on and we’re a young team. We have two freshmen starting, six rotation players, I think they’re playing awesome. Team chemistry takes time, but when you have a team like (Girard) who has seniors who’ve been playing together for multiple teams, it’s different.”

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