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Friday, May 6, 2016

GHS pulls out 5 set thriller over Eagles

Friday, October 7, 2011

Greencastle's Shelby Earl (18) attempts to poke a shot over the block attempt by South Putnam's Alex McHugh during Thursday's Breast Cancer Awareness match. [Order this photo]
The volleyball teams from Greencastle and South Putnam came together Thursday not only to give fans a great match, but to also raise awareness about breast cancer. Before the start of the volleyball match, survivors were honored as people paraded around Greencastle's McAnally Center in pink shirts, pink socks and even a pink tutu made an appearance.

The two teams didn't disappoint, delivering to fans a hard-fought, five-set match that went in favor of the host Tiger Cubs 19-25, 25-17, 25-27, 25-10 and 15-8.

South Putnam head coach Renata Hendrickson thought her team rebounded well from a rough outing Monday and has begun doing things to put themselves in better position to notch a few wins.

"We played a lot better than what we played in our game on Monday -- our senior night," Hendrickson said. "The girls are working as a team more. They're talking, they're encouraging each other and that's one thing I wanted them to improve on ending the season. That's one thing we did better tonight than we have in a long time.

"We had some silly errors here and there, but we didn't have a bad game," she added.

For the Tiger Cubs' Liz Spencer, it was all about a total team effort, even from those who never stepped on the court.

"I'm just really proud of the girls, not only the ones that were on the court," Spencer said. "That's what we talked about. Kandice Phillips came in from the bench again and gave a tremendous contribution. Even though Erika Davies is not playing because of her ACL, she's in it. She's in it for the team and that made a big difference for the kids tonight."

With the teams locked up in two game each, it was a race to 15 to see who would win in the fifth and deciding set. Greencastle ran out to a quick 5-0 lead, which caused South Putnam to call a timeout and gather the troops. The Eagles score on the next play, with Yon recording a kill.

However, for every South Putnam point, Greencastle had one of its own. With the score 9-5 in favor of Greencastle, Rayleigh Amis tapped a shot over the net that found a hole in the South Putnam defense to bring the score to 10-6 in favor of GHS. She followed with two big kills that would give Greencastle all the momentum it would need. The Tiger Cubs' closed out the set and won 15-8.

"We're finally starting to believe in what we have to do to win," Spencer said. "Not taking anything away from them (South Putnam) at all. Victoria Evans, she's coming on -- they're all coming on and it just makes such a huge difference when mentally you know that you're competitive with a team.

"I'm really, really proud of them. We had a tough match last night at Cascade and lost in three, and to come back with the spirit like they did tonight, I'm proud of them," she added.

The night looked to belong to the Eagles early on as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first set, only to have Greencastle rally back to make it close. An ace from Kaylin Yon set the Eagles up for the win and a kill from Ericka Minor gave the first set to South Putnam 25-19.

And as would be the case all evening, Greencastle responded. GHS went on a run of its own to open the second set, building an advantage of 7-1. Even though South Putnam chipped away at the lead throughout the match, GHS was able to hang on and win the set 25-17.

The back and forth continued in the third set as South Putnam outlasted Greencastle to win 27-25. Greencastle was down 17-12 at one point and rallied to tied the game at 21-all. The teams traded points until Brooke Boetjer closed out the game, as she wound her arm and delivered a monster kill to win the set.

But all the momentum South Putnam grabbed in the third set, left them in the fourth. Greencastle became the team that couldn't do any wrong and raced out to an 11-3 advantage. Big kills from Amis, Evans and Shelby Earl allowed GHS to extend the lead.

With the match at 24-10 in favor of GHS, a rotation miscommunication by South Putnam resulted in a point for Greencastle, which gave them the fourth set.

Greencastle saw some great play at the net Thursday, but as Spencer pointed out, volleyball success starts with the pass.

"Rayleigh is coming into her own," Spencer said. "She's developed more shots and she's having confidence in using them. But everything in volleyball starts with the pass. It's all about serving and passing. She wouldn't be able to hit it our passers couldn't put the ball in the setter's hands, so that's why they call it a team game. They have to have everybody out there.

"Ellen (Gobert) is the unsung hero of the group. She's worked hard, she's competitive and she says up and keeps making good decisions out there," Spencer added.

South Putnam has been dealing with some changes to its lineup, but Thursday showed they were coming together and playing some solid volleyball.

Like I said, when you make change, it kind of messes everything up for a while until you get used to it and you can tell by the way the girls move," Hendrickson said. "They move around each other, they don't run into each other and they work together. We could have done some things better tonight, but we had a pretty good game. We're getting used to the new formation, transitions and stuff. I'm proud of them."

At Greencastle

South Putnam 25 17 27 10 8

Greencastle 19 25 25 25 15