Knights survive early scare, top Warwick in Districts

By on October 29, 2014

The Warwick girls volleyball team nearly did what only one other team has done against Hempfield this season.

That is, win a set.

Warwick’s Natalie Weaver (23) prepares to spike the ball over a Chambersburg blocker as teammate Alexa Mohler looks on last Saturday

Warwick’s Natalie Weaver (23) prepares to spike the ball over a Chambersburg
blocker as teammate Alexa Mohler looks on last Saturday

The Lady Warriors had their chances in the opener, leading 21-15, 22-17 and then getting to set point at 24-23.

Hempfield, though, scored the final three points to escape with a 26-24 conquest and then went on to sweep Warwick 3-0 in the District Three Triple-A quarterfinals on Tuesday night at Dallastown. The Lady Knights completed the win with decisions of 25-11, 25-13 in the final two.

“When we passed well, we gave them some fits,” said Warwick coach Brad Glouner, who had lost his voice by match’s end. “We served pretty tough, I was really happy, We take pride in that in how tough we serve.”

Unfortunately for the Lady Warriors, this marked the third straight season in which their season has ended in the District quarterfinals, the furthest point they have reached in program history.

In set one, they seemed to be on a mission to get past that hurdle, leading by as many as six points. But the Lady Knights, led by Karissa Dzurik’s match-high 14 kills and four aces, managed to survive.

Of Hempfield’s 18 wins this season, Bishop Shanahan is the only team to have taken a set from them.

“We missed three of our first five serves of the set, so if you get one of those in, you probably win the set. We played really, really well in the first game,” Glouner said. “I think if we steal that first game, though, it’s a whole different ball game.”

Senior Gia Gruett led Warwick with 10 kills and two aces, while senior Alexa Mohler added a team-best 19 assists and 10 digs. Natalie Mathias also chipped in with two aces and Jayna Class had one block.

After taking the early driver’s seat, the Lady Knights were in control throughout the second set, cruising to a 14-point win.

“I think it was a letdown and we talked about it between games,” Glouner said, “but we couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm game two.”

Once again finding their passing game in the third set, the Warwick girls found themselves down just two, 10-8, at the midway point.

But eventually, the Lady Knights went on a run and pulled away, closing out the match with a 25-13 conquest.

“We went into a spot where we couldn’t pass again and they ran off a whole bunch of points on us,” Glouner said. “They just have so many weapons and then they have a couple girls that can really serve pretty tough. When we didn’t pass well, we became really predictable where the ball was going.”

Last Saturday, Warwick returned to the court for the first time since suffering a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Elizabethtown in the L-L semi-finals, in which they twice reached match point, but couldn’t finish.

This time, in a District opening-round match, the Lady Warriors took care of business, knocking off 8th-seeded Chambersburg 3-1 (25-20, 19-25, 25-16, 25-22) at Garden Spot High School.

Gruett acknowledged that they used the loss to E-town as motivation heading into Districts.

“We really had to think of where we need to go and that E-town loss, it’s going to help us remembering it, so we just got to keep moving forward,” she said.

The Lady Warriors jumped to an early lead of 13-6 in the first set and held on for the 25-20, and then Chambersburg, thanks to a 7-0 run which put them up 19-13 in the second, evened things up.

“It made it realistic that we don’t have (the match), so we just had to keep pushing,” Gruett said. “We knew that we could win since we had the first one, so we just had to bring what we had.”

Bring it, they did.

After the Lady Trojans closed to to 16-14, Rylee Derr had several kills in a 7-1 Warwick run which stretched their lead to 23-15. Derr’s eight kills for the match were second only to Gruett’s 22. A Gruett swing closed out the 25-16 third-set win.

Then in the fourth, Warwick led 23-19 when Chambersburg called a timeout. It was then that Glouner gave his players some assuring words.

“I told them in the timeout, ‘We’re not having a repeat of the other night, ladies.We’re going to play every single point like it’s championship point,’” Glouner recalled. “And I thought they did. They didn’t let balls drop, we were all over the place.”

The Lady Trojans got within 23-21 and 24-22, but Gruett clinched it with her 22nd and final kill.

“If you split the first two,” Glouner said, ‘that third game is critical. It’s usually a big momentum one.”

Gruett chipped in with 13 digs, Mohler added 44 assists, Class had four blocks, and Jensen Burnheimer served up four big aces.

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