Down two games to one against Philo in the Div. II Eastern District sectional tournament the West Holmes Lady Knights needed to dig down and find some resilience to pull out a comeback win on Oct. 17.
West Holmes won game one with a convincing 25-11 result and it looked like Lady Knights cut the charge out of the Electrics early on. However, the Electrics re-focused quickly and won games two and three 25-21 and 25-20 putting the Lady Knights in a hole.
West Holmes junior Lauren Park smashed kill after kill in game four as she led the Lady Knights to a 25-17 victory and then in game five was the difference maker as she put an emphatic ending on a 15-10 Lady Knights’ win with a massive kill to end the match. (video)
So this is a good way to end game 5 for the Lady Knights. Lauren Park with no regard for human life ends it. 15-11WH pic.twitter.com/ggIICpYtxi
— OhioSportsTicket.com (@OhioTicket) October 17, 2016
During the tournament win, Park surpassed Mel Mohr as the all-time leader in kills at West Holmes. Park carried 1,093 kills coming into the match and Mohr was just 24 away at 1,117. So when Park ripped a massive 43 kills against Philo on Tuesday she blew Mohr away to snag the record and also broke her own single-game record for kills. Earlier this season Park had 40 kills against Madison, and well that record didn’t last too long either.
“It feels really great to hold the all-time kill record at our school,” Park said. “It’s awesome to be up there with all of the great players that have played here in the past. I’m very honored to hold the record and I hope to break more.”
West Holmes’ coach Savannah Moore said Park’s play was fantastic and also said even down 2-1 she had confidence in her team’s ability to battle back for the win.
“When we were down 2-1 I was just thinking that we are 4-for-4 in five-set matches this year,” Moore said. “I wasn’t to worried because I knew our girls could change it around mentally and they totally took the challenge. Once we saw that change in their eyes in game four we felt really good about things.”
In game five the Lady Knights took a quick 2-0 lead and then lead 5-2. Moore said being able to take the early lead in game five was crucial to completing the Lady Knights’ comeback.
“It takes so much pressure off our girls when we get ahead in game five,” Moore said. “You gain so much confidence and it makes you play more comfortably and allows you to play freer.”
During games four and five it was the West Holmes block that kept them ahead of the Electrics and helped them move onto the next round against Indian Valley in what will be a sectional title match-up.
“We challenged our girls to throw up a triple block tonight,” Moore said. “We were getting some touches on the block and even if we didn’t block those, getting those touches was huge.”
Go go with Park’s ridiculous, record-setting and historic night Kacie Leppla doled out 54 assists, Kylie Leppla contributed 15 digs and Sammie Hall and Makena Mulhull each chipped in with five kills.
Park had five blocks, 16 digs and two aces to go with that large number of kills.
The Lady Knights (13-10) will travel to Indian Valley to face the Braves at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20. Way back in August the Lady Knights beat the Braves in five sets 20-15,26-24,25-21,15-25 and 15-9.
“We need to put together two really good practices and get more confidence going into that match with Indian Valley,” Moore said. “The game over there is going to be really exciting and our girls are excited to play Indian Valley again. We’ve played down there already this season and our girls are confident about going back.”
1. Park’s peak to greatness
Lauren Park’s 476 kills this season puts here just 24 court crackers away from 500. That currently puts her at 31st in the all-time state record books for kills in a season. Also, her 43 kills against Philo ranks her 6th best all-time in the state of Ohio for kills in a single game. Lexington’s Mackenzie Weaver holds the record at 51 when she had herself a day against Orrville on Oct. 10, 2015.
2. Numero uno for Moore
Coach Moore gets her first tournament win at the helm of the Lady Knights. The first-year coach has kept the traditionally strong West Holmes program rolling right along and now they’ll try to add yet another sectional championship year to their banner that soars at the top of The Dungeon.
The Lady Knights have played in five games this season that have went to the fifth set. And they have won every one of them. Their first two games of the season the Lady Knights beat both Dover and Indian Valley in five sets. They then had their huge comeback win at Madison when they found themselves down two games to none, beat Wooster in five and on Tuesday kept their string going with a five-set win over Philo.
With the score 10-8 in game five the Lady Knights got two great plays from senior Sammie Hall. Better known as Flo, Hall made a strong kill to push the Lady Knights up 11-8. On the following rally Flo came up with a big dig and then got a touch of a Philo kill while high above the net that continued a rally the Lady Knights eventually won.
“Sammie is one of those players that is always engaged,”Moore said. “She’s focused and I know when it comes to crunch time and Lauren (Park) is in the back row we can go to her.”