Lady Barons grab sole possession of first place
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Without fail, the Manheim Central girls volleyball team is always ready when they face league rival Garden Spot.
Tuesday night was no different.
And in a battle of Section Two unbeatens, with sole possession of first place on the line, the Lady Barons answered the bell, earning an 18-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-21 victory in Manheim to improve to 5-0 in league play (5-1 overall).
"They’re definitely aware (of what was at stake)," Central coach Laurie McClure said. "Their goal from the beginning of the season has been to continue to win the Section. We won it last year, so coming in, that was the first thing they told me is that, ‘We want to win the Section.’ And I was like, ‘OK, it’s going to take beating Garden Spot.’ So I think it’s been a common thread throughout our season so far is, ‘Alright, what do we need to do so that we’re ready for Garden Spot?’"
Part of the preparation for playing GS (3-1 L-L) was to make sure they were ready for the Lady Spartans’ tip balls, and Julie Smith and Janae Nolt were among MC’s leaders on defense with 27 and 25 digs, respectively.
"(The digs) kept us in the game and kinda put (GS) out of sync," McClure said.
Still, the Lady Spartans got a solid start to the night, taking the early upper hand with a 25-18 decision in game. The two teams were tied at 15-all before GS went on a 10-3 run to put it away. Holly Schnader finished with 11 kills and Maddy George added four blocks on the night to lead the Lady Spartans.
"I wasn’t too nervous in the fact that pretty much every game we’ve played so far this year, we’ve been down one game to start," McClure said. "So I know my girls have the heart and determination to push back after a loss like that in the first game."
That heart again showed through on Tuesday. Central jumped to the lead, and although GS rallied behind their service game — Hannah Williams led the Lady Spartans with three aces — the MC girls held on for the match-tying 25-23 decision.
"That was a pivotal game for us, winning that one and making sure we moved into the third game with a win under our belts," McClure remarked.
While Nolt did most of the damage for MC in terms of attack in game one, the Lady Barons spread it around after that, and Evie Dunagan and Brooke Witmer finished with team-highs in kills with 17 and 15 respectively. Lauree Wiegand had a big night with 35 assists, while Witmer was also among the team leaders with three blocks, one behind Logan Newcomer’s team-high four.
"I think another big part of our game was just moving the ball around on our sets," McClure said. "Throughout the last couple of games, (the kills came) between Janae and Evie Dunagan and Brooke Witmer as well, so I think that kinda confused (GS) as well. The ball was coming different places all the time."
With their attack in high gear, the Lady Barons went on to complete their four-set win, taking the final two games 25-18, 25-21. Nolt and Dunagan led MC with two aces apiece.
"We really played aggressive and intense right from the beginning of the match," McClure said. "My girls always get up for the Garden Spot match, so we came out strong and things like that."
Last Thursday, Dunagan had 23 kills and four aces as Manheim Central survived in a five-set win over L-S (20-25, 23-25, 25-11, 25-21, 15-9). Newcomer chipped in with three blocks in the marathon victory.
Central was also in action last Tuesday, Sept. 11, shutting out Elizabethtown 3-0 (25-12, 27-25, 25-12). Dunagan’s 17 kills led the attack, while Wiegand served up five aces and Witmer finished with four blocks. More MC VOLLEYBALL, page B-8