All hands on deck

Annie Pearson of Great Crossing, right, battles with Emily Slone of Frankfort for a point during their 41st District volleyball match Thursday night at GCHS.

Raise your hand if you predicted volleyball as the sport that would galvanize and fire up the Great Crossing High School student body in its inaugural year.

Wins and in-school promotions have helped, but so has the infectious hustle and athletic prowess of the Lady Warhawks themselves. They’re ranked No. 24 in the state and likely climbing after Thursday’s straight-sets 41st District victory over Frankfort in front of another raucous student section.

“We want every point like it’s the last point,” said Ryann Thomas, whose willingness to hit the floor along with teammates Taylor Carwile, Morgan Caba and Kirstynn Yarber has been an unsung part of Great Crossing’s hot start.

GC dispatched Frankrfort with increasing ease, 25-17, 25-14, 25-8, to go 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the district.

The Lady Panthers (4-7, 0-2) simply had no answer for big hitters Reagan McLean, Grace Brooker, Jasmine Koonce, Alora Wilson and Thomas, with Annie Pearson’s sets consistently leaving them in prime position for kills.

“Our front row took care of business tonight,” GC coach Adam Ivetic said. “Ryann figured it out there at the end. We made a couple of adjustments in her approach, and she really took to the coaching today, and you could really see it in the third set.”

Great Crossing pulled away in the final game thanks to a lengthy run of points off Marley Staats’ service.

The tone was established earlier with the digs in the back-court, an all-out effort that was equally evident in last week’s four-set loss to No. 7 Henry Clay.

“Everybody’s excited about it and coming to games, and plays like that get everybody going,” Ivetic said, “You don’t have to know anything about volleyball to see that kid busting their butt to go pick up a ball like that. It’s just craziness.

Ivetic, a mathematics teacher, spent several minutes after the game talking with fans wearing their football jerseys and clamoring for a boys’ club team.

He said that’s an extension of what he hears during the school day, when students casually call him “Coach” and ask about the next game.

“It’s crazy, very exciting,” Carwile, the Lady Warhawks’ lone senior, said. “I think it makes us more excited and willing to hustle for the ball. If they want it, we want it too.”

Great Crossing stays in the 11th Region for a home match with Madison Southern at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and a trip to Madison Central on Thursday night.

A win over Franklin County on Sept. 16 would sew up the No. 1 seed in the district playoffs.

“I feel like we’re playing really well as a team,” Thomas said. “We’ve been dominating a lot.”

And the community is catching on.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at

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