Tough tri-match sees Titans win pair, Lady P’s drop two

The big, bad wolves came huffing and puffing into Garaway High School gymnasium to face the Garaway Lady Pirates volleyball team in a tri-match Saturday, Sept. 17, and unlike the three little pigs, the Lady Pirates did not escape the clutches of the Wolves.

In this case, the wolves were extremely talented teams in Tri-Valley (6-2) and Triway (6-6), and the two powerful hitting teams proved to be too much for Garaway (8-5).

“These Saturdays have not been very kind to us,” said Garaway coach Sara Roach. “But we knew coming in that these two teams were going to be a challenge for us. I am so appreciative of getting the chance to play teams of this caliber because they are only going to make us better in the long run.

This gets us very prepared for what we will have coming up in the IVC (Inter-Valley Conference) and that is one huge positive that comes out of this day for us, despite losing twice.”

The morning game at 10 a.m. versus Tri-Valley proved to be a struggle from the start. Garaway struggled to maintain any kind of flow versus the Scotties’ attack. The result was a lopsided 25-16, 25-16 loss for Garaway.

“We seem to struggle in early games like that, for whatever reason,” said Roach. “We just didn’t look very inspired and they kind of took it to us.”

Garaway then sat down and watched Tri-Valley play Triway. Titans head coach John Finn expected this one to be tight, but his Triway team went to work immediately, built a huge lead and never looked back in fashioning an impressive 25-14 win in game one.

The two teams then settled into a back-and-forth affair in game two that saw them trade points, with neither team claiming more than a one-point lead as the score went to 13-13, and eventually settled in with Triway leading 17-16.

“Of the two games, that second game was more of what we expected coming in,” said Finn of the tight battle.

It was then that Triway got a big kill from Mary Cornelius to go up 18-16. An unforced error from the Scotties was followed by a Zoe Carmichael ace, and suddenly Triway was up 20-16. (video)

With the score at 22-19, Tanner Wirth got a key kill, and after a Tri-Valley score, Cornelius got a kill and Wirth ended all hope for the Scotties by banging home the game-winner, just as she had in game one.

“Just way too many self-inflicted errors for us to win a game like this against a team of this caliber,” said Tri-Valley coach Leigh Longeberger.

Finn praised Wirth for her all-game, and called his junior right-side hitter a tremendous all-around player who is only going to get better.

The Titans got a quick breather before squaring off with host Garaway in the nightcap.

The Lady Pirates got out to a quick 3-0 start on the strength of an Allison Luneborg block, but Triway quickly tied things up at 4-4. A Luneborg kill gave Garaway the lead again, and the Lady Pirates led at 10-9 following a Cornelius kill. Then Triway went on a 6-0 run to go up 15-10, when Carmichael (video) recorded a bruising kill and Cornelius recorded a pair of service aces. Carmichael had three more huge kills and Laney Kiper added another, but Garaway stayed close with a pair of kills from Luneborg and another from Grace Chapman.

Triway was leading 22-16 and seemingly in control, Garaway fought back. A Sam Putt kill and a Jenna Walter block (video) brought the Lady P’s to within one at 22-21, but while Walter would get one more block, the Titans would pull out a 25-22 win with a game-winning kill from Halie Luc.

“I was really pleased with the way we played that game,” said Roach. “We showed some toughness against a very good team, and we battled back when we could have packed it in.”

Battling back would not happen in game two, when Kiper began assaulting the Lady Pirates with a number of kills. Her effort led to a 10-4 lead that Garaway would never threaten. By the time Triway got kills from Cornelius and Wirth, it was 17-7 and Garaway was teetering. The closest the Lady Pirates could get was at 20-13, and then Kiper recorded a pair of kills before Cornelius ended the game with another big hit.

Finn was excited to see his young team come to life and put both teams away to move on with a pair of wins on the day.

“We have not been finishing games when we have had opportunities to do so, so it was nice to see us take charge and do that against some good competition,” said Finn.

For Triway, a team that has dropped some tough games to some terrific competition this fall, gaining victories is of the utmost importance. According to Finn, winning breeds winning, and it was nice to walk out of GHS with a pair of victories.

“We can talk all we want to about believing in ourselves and thinking we are good enough to win, but you have to actually experience winning before you can believe it, so this goes a long way in helping us believe we can win. We have a lot of respect for both of these teams, and we knew coming in it would not be easy. Overall, outside of a stretch in the first game against Garaway, I thought we brought our ‘A’ game. I thought Laney Kiper really had a solid day. I don’t know if she had an error on the day. Zoe and Mary did their thing and played well, and Mel Basinger was great in the back row.”

Tri-Valley left feeling none too pleased having dropped the quick game to Triway, and the Lady Pirates were disappointed to have dropped a pair, but Roach said the experience her team gained was crucial to the ongoing growth of her team.

“Both of those teams have a lot of talent and depth at the net,” said Roach following the loss to Triway that wrapped up the 0-2 day for Garaway. “I felt like our girls put aside that first effort against Tri-Valley and came out inspired and playing with confidence against Triway. We didn’t play scared, and we played very well in that first game. We just need to stay aggressive. At times we tend to get a little timid when we get blocked, so if we can get our girls to be aggressive and play with the same confidence they had in game one against Triway, we will be fine.”

Garaway is 8-1 in IVC play, where the only loss they have is to undefeated Tuscarawas Central Catholic. They get to play TCC again later this year, and Roach said the competition on this day will definitely help prepare them for that coming date.

“This gets us ready for big league games like that one,” said Roach. “That makes this day a success even though we lost twice.”

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