SPENCER -- Greencastle's volleyball squad will be in unfamiliar territory come Saturday morning at Owen Valley High School.
The Tiger Cubs won their opening match of the IHSAA 3A tournament, knocking off West Vigo 20-25, 25-22, 25-21 and 25-16. The win was the first for the current seniors in sectional play.
Things started off a little rough for Greencastle as the Vikings came out swinging, using hard-hitting serves to build a 14-8 lead.
Down as much as seven, the Tiger Cubs rallied three times to as close as three but couldn't close the gap entirely before West Vigo finished off the first set.
Things looked as bleak to start the second set as Greencastle fell behind 9-4. A five point rally saw the Tiger Cubs tie the set, from where both teams began to trade points.
Greencastle, down 17-14, responded by taking the next six points and gained control of the set, eventually winning it by a three point margin.
The third set was nearly identical to set two, as Greencastle fell behind early and traded points in the middle of the set but had to wait until 21-20 to take their first lead of the set since they had lead 1-0.
West Vigo, who had held the lead for so long in the set, couldn't find a way back into the set as the Tiger Cubs took five of the last six points to win the third set.
Greencastle took advantage of a deflated Viking's squad to jump out to an early 9-3 lead. West Vigo made one last push, tying the game at 14-14 all.
But West Vigo would never have the lead in the deciding set as the Tiger Cubs took the next five points and finished off the Vikings to win their first sectional game since 2007.
The win was a big one for Greencastle and head coach Liz Spencer, as well as seniors Kara Birt, Kandice Phillips and Erika Davies.
"The seniors had never advanced in the sectional, and that was our goal: to play well enough to move on. I think this is a big step for the kids and for the program," Spencer said.
The start of the game was rocky for the Tiger Cubs, but Spencer said that things evened out over the course of the four sets.
"It's always nerve-wracking at the start of a match. We knew they were a good serving team. They killed us the last time that we played them," Spencer said.
"They served well. Some of it had to do with them and some of it had to do with us. We made up our mind to pass, which we knew we could.
"Our serving was strong later in the game. You could tell that West Vigo was beginning to get frustrated on the other side," Spencer added.
When the sets were close, Spencer said that the team stepped up in many ways.
"We kept chipping away at it. They found some energy in the second set and started having fun playing. We needed good games out of Shelby (Earl) and Victoria (Evans) and they came through for us," Spencer said.
"Rayleigh (Amis) has been consistent for us all year. Kandice stepped up for us tonight and made a huge difference. Jessi (Covert) came in and passed well from the second set on.
"Ellen (Gobert) began to play very well defensively. It was a combination of all these players doing the things we do well a little bit better," Spencer added.
Next for Greencastle is Brown County, who dispatched South Vermillion in three sets. Spencer said there wasn't any pressure on her squad.
"We're going to have fun while coming down and competing. We did what we wanted to do in this sectional. We got West Vigo, and for where this program is, that was huge," Spencer said.
"And now, there's nothing to lose. We're going to have fun. They're a bigger, stronger, faster team, but we're going to compete with them."
At Owen Valley High School
IHSAA Class 3A Sectional No. 28
West Vigo 25 22 21 16
Greencastle 20 25 25 25
Next match: Greencastle will play Brown County Saturday at 11 a.m.