The way Great Crossing volleyball has approached the first set in many matches this fall indicates that the Lady Warhawks might have an appreciation for Rubik’s cubes, Sudoku puzzles or obtuse riddles.
OK, maybe they don’t necessarily like digging their way through a challenge, but the 24th ranked team in the state is good at it.
For the third time already, GC dropped the first game of a match and stormed back to win in four. This time it was an 18-25, 25-23, 25-19, 26-24 verdict over Madison Southern in an 11th Region showdown of once-beaten clubs.
“We’re not really a first-set team, obviously, but we know how to pick it up,” sophomore outside hitter Ryann Thomas said. “We’ve known all these teams our whole lives.”
Even the games Great Crossing (6-1) won were adventurous. The Warhawks gave away all of an 11-3 lead in the second set and clawed back from a big deficit in the fourth.
Ultimately, however, the performance mirrored earlier matches against Lexington Christian and Scott County that got better as the evening progressed.
“We’ve just got to figure out what they’re good at and what we can do to score,” junior Alora Wilson said of Great Crossing’s typical learning process. “They’re really scrappy, and they have two big hitters.”
So what turned it around?
“Our middles. They worked really, really hard, and they were doing some nontraditional stuff, stuff that’s not their job,” GC coach Adam Ivetic said. “They were just kind of picking up some slack today. They were moving really well to the ball, got their hands on a lot of stuff.”
Ivetic credited Wilson and Jasmine Koonce for stepping up to complement GC’s usual big hitter, Reagan McLean, whose future Marshall University coaching staff was watching from courtside.
“When they weren’t getting set, they were drawing everybody’s eyes and opening up everybody else,” Ivetic said.
Annie Pearson’s consistent work as setter made the comeback possible, as well.
“I think Annie and I had good chemistry, and it really worked tonight,” Wilson said.
The loss was only the second of the season for Madison Southern (9-2), which won a five-set thriller at Scott County last week.
Despite that record, some GC players admitted to a touch of overconfidence.
“We played a really good game,” Thomas said. “We were not expecting much, so we kind of played down, but I feel at the end like we really dominated. That’s what we do.”
Thomas had the go-ahead smash to break a 16-all tie after the Lady Warhawks rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the fourth game.
“There were some crazy long rallies today,” Ivetic said. “It was a lot of fun on both sides.”
The Warhawks will go to Franklin County for a district rematch next Monday before traveling to Ivetic’s native Chicago for a tournament.
In addition to multiple matches in a four-day span, GC will make several college visits and do some educational sightseeing.
“It’s going to be a really good experience for all of us to go play different teams out of the state,” Thomas said.