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Girard sweeps Niles volleyball

GIRARD — It’s been either sweep or get swept through the early part of the season for the Girard Indians volleyball team.

Wednesday night, it was the former for the Indians in their 3-0 victory over the Niles McKinley Red Dragons.

“Niles is always a pretty solid team,” Girard coach Chelsea Guerrieri said. “They play great defense. They really do. I think us pulling out the rest of that first set really did give us the momentum for the second game. I know a lot of my girls are hard on themselves too as they want to push themselves to be better.”

Girard (3-3, 2-0) looked poised to carry on the momentum from Tuesday’s win against Struthers.

They jumped out to a 14-4 advantage in the first set only to see the Red Dragons (2-3, 0-2) climb back into at 24-all. Girard was able to hold on for a 26-24 win.

“I know they are a really good team,” Niles coach Ron Slipkasky said. “They have two very good players over there. We were down 14-4 in the first set and fought back. I think not winning that first set was a bit of a let down for us heading into the second set.”

Those two good players are the sister tandem of Lauren and Natalie Pallone.

“They are the hardest working kids on and off the court,” Guerrueri said. “They really are. I think they have the mentality. They really want to win and have a positive energy that attracts the rest of the team. The really pushes us over the edge sometimes.”

Natalie led the Indians with a game-high 24 kills while her sister Lauren had 13 digs along with 15 service points. Lexi Cochran added 19 service points.

“I think their serves caused us more problems,” Slipkasky said. “We couldn’t get our swings. We gave them a lot of free balls so they were able to run their offense on us.”

The Red Dragons built out an early 2-0 lead in the second set before the Indians rattled off the next six points en route to a 25-11 win. Girard never tailed in the final set coming away with a 25-10 win.

“I’m really proud of them,” Guerrueri said. “They played really well. We’re coming off a win last night so they were really pumped about that.”

Niles was paced by Taylor Shaner’s six kills, Gabby Stevens 13 digs, and Carla Thigpen’s seven service points.

Girard’s length served them well on the front line when the Red Dragons were matching what the Indians were serving up.

“We do have some taller girls,” Guerrueri said. “Size-wise, that did give us an advantage. Even though they have smaller hitters, they have a lot of talent on their team.”