GREENCASTLE -- South Putnam held off Greencastle's determined comebacks in the second and third games to take a 25-12, 25-22, 25-21 victory in the West Central Conference volleyball's "Attack for the Cure" breast cancer benefit match Thursday on the Eagles' dressed-in-pink court.
South Putnam (1-3 WCC) won its first conference match of the season. The Tiger Cubs (0-23, 0-4 WCC) didn't make it easy for the Eagles.
"We played much better," South Putnam coach Lindsey Blackman said. "We played really well in the first game, struggled in game two and came back good in game three. I feel pretty good about how we played tonight."
Greencastle coach Liz Spencer thought her team made progress towards that elusive first victory this season.
"We showed a little fight," Spencer said. "We came back in the second and third sets. We keep thinking we haven't peaked yet, that we still have to play our best game."
Spencer wasn't pleased with the Tiger Cubs in the first game.
"I still don't think these girls have any idea mentally what it takes to start the game," Spencer said. "We don't focus. Volleyball is such a reactive game and when you're nervous, your arms slow down, your feet slow down and it makes you look slower than you are."
Spencer says part of the problem is inexperience and part can be traced to her decision to keep changing the lineup to find the right combination.
"We've only won four sets all year," Spencer explained. "That's why I keep changing the lineup."
After cruising to a first-game triumph, South Putnam found the going much more difficult.
In the second game, the Eagles and Tiger Cubs were tied 9-9. South Putnam scored seven straight points and eventually stretched its advantage out to 20-13.
Greencastle rallied behind sophomore Rayleigh Amis to go on a 9-2 run for a 22-22 deadlock. Amis got the run started with a kill, then put her strong serve to work to take the next two points and had a kill from midcourt for a fourth straight point.
South Putnam temporarily broke the run with a point on Brooke Boetjer's block for a 21-17 lead, but the Tiger Cubs rallied to tie.
The Eagles scored the final three points on a service error by Greencastle, a soft-touch shot at the net by Emily Dabkowski and a out-of-bounds kill attempt by the Tiger Cubs to take the game.
Greencastle had leads of 11-7, 17-13 and 18-14 in the third game.
South Putnam tied the game at 18-18 and it was also tied at 19-19 and 20-20. The Eagles scored the final three points to win the game and match.
"Emily Dabkowski had a really good match and Ashley Wombles had a great match at the net," Blackman said. "She set the tone in the first set by producing blocks and giving us the momentum. She's our only senior and it was senior night, so that was nice to see."
Greencastle had solid play from Amis, Ellen Gobert and Brooke Buckner.
"There were spurts where they all played well," Spencer said. "Rayleigh Amis stepped up and played well and Ellen Gobert did a nice job in her second start. Brooke Buckner played better. She passed well."
Spencer says what the Tiger Cubs miss most is a steady point scorer on offense.
"We've got all kinds of trouble offensively," Spencer said. "We don't have a terminator."
South Putnam's next match is Tuesday at Cascade.
At South Putnam
Greencastle 12 22 21
South Putnam 25 25 25