Volleyball

Lady Knights thrive on Park Street in three-game sweep of Lady Ps

West Holmes and Garaway battled it out in the Dungeon

While the Garaway Lady Pirates and West Holmes Lady Knights may have similar talent across the board when they hit the volleyball floor, West Holmes has one major weapon Garaway doesn’t.

Lauren Park proved to be too much for Garaway to stop in the Lady Knights’ 25-13, 25-19, 25-18 win in the Dungeon at West Holmes High School on Saturday, Sept. 9.

Time and time again the Lady Knights’ offense was directed through the senior sensation, and time after time Park’s bone-chilling kills produced points for West Holmes.

“She is such a huge presence for us,” West Holmes head coach Savannah Moore said. “Even when you know it’s coming, she is still very difficult to defend. We have talked a lot about finding that complement to her to take some of the pressure of Lauren. This is one of the matches where I felt we could have found someone to do that, but it just didn’t materialize. Today proved exactly how much we need Lauren to be successful.”

West Holmes made game one look like it might simply run away and hide from the Lady Pirates. Led by Park and Reagan Wilcox at the net and the setting of Sarah Anderson, West Holmes bolted to a 16-5 lead on an ace by Nadia Rouse. Game one would never get closer as West Holmes simply dominated.

Game two took a 180-degree approach as the Lady Pirates turned the tables and roared out to a huge lead. A 5-1 Garaway edge led by Sam Putt and Emma Warkall ballooned to a 15-6 Lady Pirates lead, and it looked like a reversal of game one was in progress.

However, West Holmes took off on an 8-0 run, led by the powerful Park, who connected for two kills and one block in that span to draw the Lady Knights to within 15-14.

Putt stopped the bleeding with a kill and then recorded a service ace, but West Holmes never flinched, and it was again Park doing the damage, recording four kills as West Holmes pushed ahead to a 19-17 lead. Garaway came back to tie it on a hustle play by Lizzie Mullet, but Park got two more kills in the midst of a Lady Knights run that ended with a 25-19 win for West Holmes.

“I think at times we played really well,” Garaway head coach Katie Scott said. “We had blockers where they needed to be, and our movement was good, but sometimes Lauren is so hard to defend even when you defend her the way you should. She was putting balls down that we just couldn’t get to.”

Garaway again came right back to take a lead in game three with Kori Gutheridge recording a kill and a service ace and Grace Chapman slamming home a winner. Brooklyn Frey nailed a kill during a 3-0 Garaway mini-spurt, and the Lady Pirates led 10-5.

Little by little West Holmes started to chip away, and trailing 16-13, the Lady Knights went on a blistering 9-0 run that turned the tempo in West Holmes’ favor. In that stretch Garaway committed several unforced errors while Rouse made a great hustle play, bringing a ball back into the court on a point West Holmes eventually won. Moments earlier she had rammed into the scorer’s table, so obviously her effort was having an impact on the momentum for West Holmes. Two straight Park aces led to a 22-16 Lady Knights lead, and eventually Park’s slam from the back row ended the game in favor of West Holmes.

Scott said momentum played a big role as the two teams seemed to trade runs, but seeing her team hand away two large leads in the final two games didn’t please the Garaway skipper.

“We tried to use our time-outs to stop the damage, but when they got on their runs, we needed someone to step up and make a play and to stay focused and eliminate mental mistakes, but we were unable to do that.”

Moore said this year’s contest was eerily similar to last season’s match when West Holmes stormed back from a 23-13 deficit in game three to record a wild 31-29 win.

“It was a lot like the game that we played with them last year when we came from behind,” Moore said. “I am thrilled to see our girls battle back after getting behind in games two and three, but it is a little frustrating to see us put ourselves in that position in the first place. But we showed some guts in sticking with it, and we persevered when we could have folded. We made some big plays when we had to.”

Moore said the one thing her team seems to continue to battle is creating its own momentum on a more consistent basis. She noted that when Park is in the back row, West Holmes has struggled to create any kind of offensive presence.

“Momentum is so big, and I don’t think we have come to realize that yet,” Moore said. “You can kind of see when we get down or frustrated that our body language shows. Sometimes I can tell when we are going on the other side of momentum because our body language isn’t there and we almost feel like we don’t believe in ourselves. I think that will get better as this team matures.”

The win was West Holmes’ third straight and improved its record to 4-5 after a sluggish 1-5 start. Park finished with 21 kills, 21 digs and four service aces while Sarah Anderson ran the offense well with 29 assists, 14 digs and two kills. Emily Anderson added 20 digs while Wilcox recorded five kills and nine service points. Garaway (3-3) was led by Warkall’s four kills, Mullet’s 10 digs and Gutheridge’s three service aces.

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