For the fourth time in four years, the Garaway Lady Pirates have a new head coach patrolling the sidelines. As the newest skipper for Garaway, Jess Schwartz has her team off and running at 4-2 in a tough Inter-Valley Conference South league, and that includes a recent five-game win over a talented Buckeye Trail team.
With a mix of youthfulness and veteran leadership, Schwartz said taking over this group has been easy, and she credited her group of seniors with being the glue that has held this team together through all of the year-to-year transitions.
“These seniors have had four different head coaches, and I think this team’s ability to play this well is a testament to this group of seniors,” Schwartz said. “They haven’t let a lot of that adversity cause them to fade or struggle, and I think they have become stronger through that adversity, and that is a huge reason why this team enjoys each other so much and has gelled so well. This group of six seniors has simply stuck with it through thick and thin, and they have had each others’ backs every step of the way, and that has had a nice, positive impact on the younger girls.”
In the win over Buckeye Trail, it was a battle from start to finish. Buckeye Trail took game one in extra time, winning 26-24. Garaway bounced back to capture game two in a 25-23 squeaker. Then the Lady P’s won the night’s easiest game 25-19 before the Warriors regrouped to capture game four 25-23 in another barn-burner, setting the stage for the quick race to 15 in the fifth and deciding game, where Garaway dug deep to produce a 15-1 victory.
In that game Emma Warkall showed just what kind of an all-around talent she is by producing 17 kills, 13 assists and four blocks.
“She is our floor general, and we notice a big difference when she is not out there,” Schwartz said of her jack-of-all-trades.
While she does a lot of setting, Schwartz said the senior has such a nice swing at the net that she can produce kills too, which allows her to move Warkall all over the floor.
“She is definitely the one who is making us tick right now.”
Liz Yoder added 27 digs in the win, Brooklyn Fey Hammered out 13 kills and added three blocks, Andi Starner recorded 23 digs, and Lizzie Mullet collected 25 assists.
On the heels of that intense affair came the Newcomerstown game on Thursday, Sept. 6, where the Lady P’s didn’t allow any of the drama of their game with the Warriors.
Schwartz went to the bench liberally in the 25-16, 25-11, 25-7 blowout win, and the contest was never in doubt as Garaway dominated start to finish, the highlight being a 13-point serving set for Warkall in game three.
“I felt like we got better from beginning to end, and we didn’t fade at the end and lose our focus, which was good,” Schwartz said of the win over the Trojans. “Any time you go home with a win it’s a good thing. It was fun to see everyone contribute.”
Warkall finished the night with 14 assists and six service aces, Frey recorded nine kills and a block, and Yoder had 11 digs as a host of Lady Pirates got ample playing time.
“I’m still trying to figure out everyone’s roles, and I have been excited to see what some of our younger kids can do,” Schwartz said. “We’ve gotten to see some younger kids like Brooke Werker, Laiken Wallick, Lizzie Mullet and even to a certain extent Brooklyn Frey, who logged some significant time on the floor last year as a freshman. They’ve done some nice things, and Brooklyn has been a game-changer for us at times. The younger kids have really come together with this senior class to gel quickly, and that has been a huge reason we have experienced success so far.”
While the easy win over the Trojans was enjoyable, Schwartz said her team realizes the task at hand in trying to wade through a difficult IVC slate of games, which provides a challenge every night out.
“We believe we can win a good portion of those games, but because of the talent level in league, we know we have to be at the top of our game to do so,” Schwartz said.