ROACHDALE -- 235 digs, 62 kills, 59 assists and 35 aces. All that action and it all came down to a fifth and deciding game between county foes Thursday night. The matchup between the North Putnam and Greencastle volleyball squads went in favor of the Cougars with a 19-17 win in the fifth game.
"The girls really fought and really wanted the win," Cougar head coach Jill Schreiber said. "They needed that win and I think it's good for them going into sectional. They played hard. We had to go to that fifth game and that's fine. We're not a team that's going to win in three games, we're just not. We're going to have to fight for every win that we get."
The Cougars didn't have an advantage in the final game until a called lift made it 17-16 in favor of North Putnam. After a momentary tie at 17 all, North scored on a Taylor Alles kill and then the game ended in odd fashion as Greencastle's Brooke Lewis lost her footing and was unable to recover to reach the ball.
Lewis was a force for the Tiger Cubs on the night, collecting 36 digs, 10 kills and one ace. Lewis also was 10-of-12 serving for five points for Greencastle.
The teams traded games to set up the final game showdown.
North took game one, winning 25-21, but it was Greencastle that made a statement in the second.
Greencastle jumped on the Cougars early and often, building a lead and never letting it go. One point away from the win, it was Lewis that provided an impressive dig that kept the point alive. The Tiger Cubs took advantage and won the second game 25-11.
Throughout the first two games, Greencastle kept their play at a high level and accomplished some good things in the process. The bench gave those on the floor a boost and those efforts were not lost on their coach.
"I think we did some good things today. I'm proud of our efforts," Greencastle head coach Lowe said. "Yes we lost and yes it was a conference match, but I will take that loss to some of them we've had. There was effort on the floor 100-percent, the bench 100-percent; whether they were in the match or not, they were emotionally in the match."
Besides game five, game three turned out to be the biggest battle for the night. Both teams stood face-to-face, waiting for the other to blink.
North Putnam built a 14-7 lead, but a resilient Greencastle squad cut that lead and continued to chip away at it throughout the game. The Cougars clung to a 20-16 lead, but Greencastle's Brooke Buckner tied the game at 22-all after serving two consecutive aces. The Tiger Cubs took the lead on the next play, but a bump from North's Logan Doyle knotted the game once again.
Tied at 25-all, Alles found the side of the court, giving North the lead and her next shot landed just inside the back line, delivering the Cougars a game three victory 27-25.
North Putnam's determination was a major factor in the outcome of game three. The Cougars were swarming the court and Schreiber was pleased with the effort.
"The girls played and were going after balls that I didn't think they would get to. They hustled and I can't ask for anything more than that. We're still young," she said.
Like any good battle between worthy adversaries, neither side was ready to give in to the other.
Despite dropping their 20th contest of the year, Lowe is adamant that her team will continue on its path without any deviations. She stated she knows what they need to be successful; it's just a matter of time.
"I think the thing I'm most proud of is we are not changing our game plan," Lowe said. "I don't care if we lose every game the rest of this season; we are not changing our game plan. We're not going to become a dumper, a tipper, a roll shooter or an off-speed hitter -- we're going to play the game the way it was intended; pass, set, attack. If we did pass, set, attacking -- I don't care, but we're not going to stop playing because that's the most important thing. We're going to play the game the way it was intended.
"I'm proud of the growth and development of this group. It may take a while, it might take another year, but they're going to be a good team," Lowe added.
For the Cougars, the win couldn't have come at a better time. Just like the Tiger Cubs, North has a young squad that is working on finding its way and Schreiber thinks the win will give them some much needed confidence.
"It's huge. We haven't had a win in a while, so it is huge. Our win and loss record doesn't show how well we're playing or how well we have played. It does boost the confidence a lot and beating Greencastle it helps a little bit more. It will be really good for them. They deserved it," Schreiber commented.
Just like the varsity contest, the junior varsity contest was a battle. It took them three games to decide the winner and Greecastle came out on top, winning game three 15-14.
North Putnam junior varsity coach Bonnie Osborn commended her team on their efforts and noted that this was the hardest she's seen her girls play all year.
"This was the best game they've played all year. I really can't find anything negative to say about them; they just played so well as a team," she said.
North Putnam will travel to Fountain Central at 6 p.m. Monday, while Greencastle will host Cascade at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
At North Putnam
Greencastle 21 25 25 25 17
North Putnam 25 11 27 16 19
Digs -- (GHS) B. Lewis 36, Nobles 31, Mille 28, J. Lewis 24, Samuels 19, Buckner 4, Grzesiek 3; (NP) Doyle 23, Alles 19, Robinson 13, Gray 12 McGaughey 7, Stephenson 6, Preecs 2, Harbison 2.
Kills -- (GHS) Samuels 11, Nobles 10, B. Lewis 10, Amis 6; (NP) Alles 10, Doyle 8, McGaughey 5, Robinson 1, Stephenson 1
Aces -- (GHS) Nobles 5, Samuels 5, J. Lewis 4, Amis 2, Buckner 2, B. Lewis 1, Miller 1; (NP) Doyle 5, McGaughey 5, Alles 2, Robinson 2, Gray 1
Blocks -- (GHS) Samuels 12, Amis 9, Miller 2, J. Lewis 2; (NP) Alles 10, Preecs 1
Next match -- North Putnam will travel to Fountain Central at 6 p.m. Monday, while Greencastle will host Cascade at 6 p.m. Wednesday.