Garaway Volleyball

Generals come from behind to knock off Lady Pirates in another classic showdown

The Garaway vs. Ridgewood showdown was another all-out affair in this rivalry





Royal rumble.

Call it what you will. When Garaway and Ridgewood get together for a night of volleyball, you can bet your last dime that the two teams are going to give the fans their money’s worth. The two teams did not disappoint when they clashed on The Hill in Sugarcreek on Tuesday, Aug. 29 as they went back and forth all night, trading punches and leads, always playing all-out, and never giving an inch.

In the end the Generals would rally from a 2-1 deficit and storm back to take a scintillating five-game match 25-17, 14-25, 19-25, 25-16, 15-9 that saw both teams teeter on the edge of both victory and defeat.

When it came down to crunch time in the race to 15 in the final deciding game, Ridgewood (3-2) exhibited a ton of savvy, getting some tremendous defense from its back line and senior Cassie Mladek, who led a torrid Generals comeback after Ridgewood fell behind 2-1 and trailed 12-11 in game four.

“Our philosophy this year is that we are one, we are a team, we are family and we play for each other,” Mladek said, choosing to praise the team effort rather than focus on herself following the win. “When we were down, I told everyone we all have someone to play for, so play for that person. We played as one, and we took off.”

Normally an outside hitter, Mladek took on a role of middle hitter for the first time and did so selflessly and flawlessly, leading her team to victory with her inspired play, but she wasn’t the only player on the floor pouring out her soul to win.

Across the net Garaway fireplug Emma Warkall was all over the floor and even off the floor as she hustled after loose balls. In game two Warkall went flying after a ball, careened into the scorer’s table, drove it backward three feet and knocked the scoreboard out of commission for a short time. Then in game four she crashed into the cart holding the water cooler, sending the water and all of the contents of the cart flying to the ground.

“That’s Emma, every single night,” Garaway head coach Katie Scott said. “She leaves it all out there on the floor every single game. She is a tremendous leader for us, and hopefully everyone else sees that and follows her in her drive to compete.”

While neither team was perfect, both played extremely hard all night. Scott said that is the calling card her team leaves regardless of the score.

“One thing that we will never debate is our willingness to play hard,” Scott said. “We just keep swinging and hitting, and the ball doesn’t always fall the way you want it to some nights, but you can always keep playing hard regardless.”

After struggling through game one with unforced errors and poor serving, Garaway (2-1) rallied, pulling everything together to capture the next two games as Samantha Putt, Warkall, freshman Brooklyn Frey and Andi Starner began hammering away at Ridgewood.

In game four Putt drilled a couple of shots that put Garaway up 12-11, and the Pirates were in position to take down the Generals in four. It was about that time that Jaclyn McGee got a huge block, and Mladek simply took over, recording three kills and two blocks down the stretch. A late 6-0 run forced the deciding fifth game, and the gymnasium at Garaway High School was only getting louder.

Game five started like a whirlwind as both teams took turns pounding shots and coming up big. Putt completely obliterated two kills, and Starner added another, but Abbey Kellish and Mladek answered back. A great hustling save from Baillie Donley earned Garaway a point, but Ridgewood fought back to tie it at 7. Garaway’s Grace Chapman recorded a huge block for a score, but Riley Young, who had played defense so incredibly well in game four, dove and sent a ball into no-man’s land for a score to tie it at 8.

That seemed to inspire Ridgewood, and Sydney Zinkon served up an ace before Kellish dumped a shot into the back-left corner for a 10-8 Generals lead. An unforced error by Garaway made it 11-8, forcing a Garaway timeout, and Warkall responded with a kill from the back row to make it 11-9.

It would be the final point the Lady Pirates would muster. Mladek snapped off a monster block at the net, and Young and Carly Griffith both made defensive gems to win another point. The final tally for Ridgewood was almost anticlimactic, but Ridgewood celebrated the huge conference win with gusto.

“My back row played incredibly well the last two games,” Ridgewood coach Brenda McCoy said. “Carly and Rylee kept us in a lot of points. They made some key adjustments as the game went along, and it paid off.”

McCoy said her team never got down on itself when it struggled and came back to win as a team, calling the evening a total team effort.

Scott said almost those identical words, aside from the victory part, describing her girls as giving their all as a single unit. “If we keep playing like that, playing that hard all the time, we are going to win our fair share of games,” Scott said. “We played hard all the way through. So did they. Neither team gave an inch. It was a heck of a volleyball game, just back and forth all night long.”

That kind of play and this kind of game is exactly what people have come to expect from this IVC rivalry showdown.

“I admire their hustle, and we had games just like this every time last year,” McCoy said. “I think people have come to expect this kind of an effort from both teams when we meet. They are a great team, and we always know it is going to be a dogfight.”

Dogfight. Add that one to the list of descriptive words that began this story and expect the next confrontation later this year in West Lafayette to be nothing less.

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