Whirlwind of emotions

Great Crossing players celebrate while Scott County huddles to regroup after the Warhawks won a key point in Tuesday’s volleyball match at SCHS. The Warhawks received their usual tough time from the Cardinals before prevailing in four sets.

No matter what the rankings or rosters say, Great Crossing volleyball never walks into anything less than a donnybrook when it takes on Scott County.

Wielding nine seniors and a top-10 ranking, GC nevertheless needed four sets — for the third time in four matches since the series started in 2019 — to shoo away SC Tuesday night.

“We got some kills, but they made us earn every single point,” GC coach Adam Ivetic said. “Those are the most fun games. Nothing came easy.”

Great Crossing snagged the first two games with increasing difficulty, 25-17 and 25-20, before Scott County flipped the latter score in the third set.

The Warhawks’ size, strength and experience at net ultimately prevailed, 25-18, to put away the fourth and final chapter.

“You could definitely tell they really wanted it, and that helped them a out a lot,” said senior Grace Brooker, who amassed a dozen kills. “They’re super scrappy, so we had to create energy to match that.”

Marley Staats topped GC (17-5) with 13 kills. Jasmine Koonce and Jazzy Calvert each delivered five blocks.

Morgan Caba (24 digs) and Ryann Thomas and Kaelyn Faul (16) were relentless in the return game, while Caba and Faul combined for eight of GC’s 10 aces.

“They came out with a lot more fire than I thought they would,” Koonce said of Scott County, which has won a pair of five-setters while enjoying its most 11th Region and 42nd District success in many seasons.

Emily Sue Watts (13 kills) and Grace Gindling (12) were instrumental at net for the Cardinals.

Makenzie Peters (27 assists) and Jayla Harris (24 digs) typified the Cardinals’ relentless counter attack. Amy McClure’s defense in the middle (four blocks) was key.

“That was the best fight we’ve had so far against anybody,” SC coach Joe LaMagno said. “That’s the best we’ve played. If we played like that against some of the other teams we’ve competed against, we might come out with a win.”

Ivetic said his points of emphasis have been off-block defense with Brooker and vocal leadership from Koonce, and that both seniors delivered against their archrival.

“Every time she got a kill, she found the person who passed the ball and told them great pass,” Ivetic said of Koonce. “She’ll go find the setter and tell them great pass. She is the exemplary senior leader right now. We challenge them, and she stepped up in that regard.”

Great Crossing backed up its win with a straight-sets road triumph Wednesday over Madison Central. Final scores were 25-13, 25-19, 25-18. Ten different Warhawks registered at least one kill, led by Calvert’s eight.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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