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Warwick girls fall in District quarter-finals B1 Thursday, October 31, 2013
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
After getting a slow start on Tuesday night against Susquehannock, the Warwick girls volleyball team bounced back in games two and three.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough.
The top-seeded Susquehannock girls held off a spirited-charge by Warwick and won 3-0 (25-12, 25-22, 25-21) in front of a big crowd in a District Three Triple-A quarter-final match at Hempfield High School.
With the loss, the Lady Warriors ended their season with a 14-4 record.
"The girls really fought hard," Warwick coach Jen Teale said. "It was a good fight."
Having dropped a 13-point loss out of the gates, Warwick held the lead at different times in each of the next two games. But Susquehannock was able to respond.
Gia Gruett registered eight kills and two blocks, while Rylee Derr chipped in with 15 digs to help lead the way. Jensen Burnheimer finished with a team-high two aces.
"We played well the second and third games," Teale said. "We had a couple calls that didn’t go our way and Susquehannock pulled away (in game two). The third game, I think it was a 12-5 lead and Susquehannock started chipping away a little bit again."
The Lady Warriors also had to deal with losing starting setter Alexa Mohler to a knee injury in the second game. Fortunately, senior Sarah Rodgers stepped in and handled that role nicely, delivering 23 assists.
"Sarah did a really great job," Teale said. "It was a really, really nice transition. We really kinda put her on the spot."
In the end, Warwick fell just one win short of the District semi-finals for the second year in a row.
"One of these times, we’ll get over the hump," Teale said. "I think it was an extremely successful year for us. Every team ends their season with a loss except for whoever wins States. Overall when I look back on the season we have grown so much since the middle of August when we came into the gym."
Warwick advanced to the District quarter-finals last Saturday a down-to-the-wire 3-2 win (25-20, 25-22, 20-25, 22-25, 15-8) over Northeastern at Hempfield High School.
After the Lady Bobcats rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force a fifth and deciding game, Warwick broke open a tight battle to score the final four points for the clinching 15-8 win.
"Mentally, it’s a spot that we have been in before (needing to regain the momentum in a fifth game)," Teale remarked. "After that second game, we said in the huddle, ‘It’s not over until the third game is won.’ We’ve been in situations this season and last season where we’ve been up 2-0 and we’ve had to finish it in five. So I was happy with the overall team effort and mental toughness of the girls."
After taking the first game 25-20, the Lady Warriors found themselves down 22-21 late in game two. But Gia Gruett’s push tied it, then Jensen Burnheimer served a couple of points, including one of her-team high nine aces, and Gabby Yellets’ kill ended it. Gruett’s 21 aces led the Lady Warriors in that category.
"The first and second games, I thought we really controlled the match," Teale said. "The third and fourth games, we stepped back a little bit and Northeastern really picked up their game."
The pattern of Saturday’s match was similar to their meeting in the earlier Dallastown Tournament, where Warwick took the first game and then Northeastern came back in the second to salvage a split.
This time, the Warwick girls grabbed an early 6-3 in game three looking to close it out, but the Lady Bobcats, paced by Maddie Reichard’s team-high four aces and 17 kills, resonded to go up 16-11. Down the stretch, Warwick got as close as 23-20, but Northeastern held on for the 25-20 decision.
With Northeastern back in the match, the Warwick girls got a scare early in game four when Gruett left the floor with an injury. Freshman Alyssa Jones stepped in and recorded a kill to put Warwick up 4-3, but the Lady Bobcats used a 9-2 run to take a lead they never lost. Northeastern had its biggest advantage at 22-14 and managed to pull even after nailing down a 25-22 conquest.
The good news for Warwick was that Gruett returned later in game four and was back in the starting lineup in the fifth game. Following a block by Alexa Mohler which tied it 3-3, Callie Donmoyer, who shared team-high honors with Burnheimer with two blocks, had back-to-back kills to put Warwick up 5-3.
Later, Rylee Derr’s kill, followed by a push, made the score 8-5. They were still ahead by three when back-to-back swings by Gruett extended the Lady Warriors’ lead to 13-8. On match point, Gruett’s initial swing was kept alive by a Northeastern dig, but the junior hitter got the ball back and scored the winning point on a push.
"Gia’s doing a real good job of always being a factor at the net," Teale said, "whether it’s blocking, whether she has a kill or she has a hard swing and they dig it back over and she’s up there to block. She’s really on her toes all the time and she can get points for us in so many ways."
Mohler added a team-best 43 assists, while Tristan Booker and Derr led the defensive effort with 38 and 15 digs, respectively.
"I was really happy with how we stuck together as a team, came back, and we had some key players coming off the bench," Teale said. "Alyssa Jones did a great job. She has gotten quality varsity playing time this year and she came in for Gia (in game four) and just did a fantastic job, with big swings off the outside, and then came in there in the fifth game and played really great."
More VOLLEYBALL, page B-3