BIDWELL, Ohio — Both coaches were pleased with the effort, but only left happy with the final result.
The Eastern volleyball team started the 2015 season on a positive note Monday following a 22-25, 25-9, 25-22, 25-22 victory over host River Valley in a non-conference season opener for both programs in Gallia County.
The Lady Eagles (1-0) lost a hard-fought battle in Game 1, but the guests responded with a convincing Game 2 win to knot the match up at one apiece. The final two games had a combined 10 ties and 12 lead changes, but the Green and Gold ultimately found ways to win both contests and secured a 3-1 match victory.
Afterwards, third-year EHS coach Katie Williams was thrilled with how her girls stepped it up on the road — especially after dropping the first game by a narrow margin.
“I knew the girls would be nervous with it being the first match, but the girls continued to work hard and communicate — which eventually brought us to the end result,” Williams said. “The girls kept working together and didn’t let the first game rattle them, and us sticking together as a team really paid off over the longer run.
“We really wanted to come in here tonight and get a win. Now we have some confidence and momentum moving forward, and we can build off of that. I really thought all the girls played well tonight.”
There were eight ties and nine lead changes alone in the opening game, and neither squad led by more than three points in Game 1.
RVHS jumped out to an early 4-1 lead and never trailed until Eastern broke a 16-all tie with a 5-2 run for its biggest lead at 21-18. The Lady Raiders rallied back to tie things at 22, then scored the final three points to take a 1-0 match lead.
The hosts took their only lead of Game 2 at 1-0, but the Lady Eagles countered with six straight points and ultimately never looked back. Eastern’s lead grew to 9-2 and 20-8 before ultimately tying the match with the 16-point triumph.
There were six ties and seven lead changes in Game 3, and the Lady Raiders twice led by four points — the last of which came at 18-14. Eastern rallied to knot things up at 21-all, then closed things on a 4-1 spurt to take a 2-1 match advantage.
The Lady Raiders’ only lead in Game 4 came at 2-1, but EHS countered with an 18-8 surge for their biggest lead of the game at 19-10. RVHS battled back to tie things up at 22-all, but the Lady Eagles scored the final three points to wrap up the 3-1 match victory.
Second-year River Valley coach Denise Toler noted after the match that as disappointed as she was with end result, she was very proud of how her kids responded to the adversity within the match.
“We have some work to do around the net and we need to go over some coverage issues a little better. We just lost too many points tonight on things that we did to ourselves,” Toler said. “We implemented a new system this year and the girls are still trying to get used to it, but I also thought they did a really good job of executing it for the most part.
“It’s a loss, but I think there are a lot of positives for us to take away from tonight. We just have to keep working and getting better. We still have a lot of matches left to play.”
Hannah Barringer led the EHS service attack with 13 points, followed by Annalisa Boano and Katlyn Barber with 10 points apiece. Elayna Bissell was next with nine points, while Morgan Baer and Kelsey Johnson respectively added eight and five points to the winning cause.
Bissell led the guests with five aces and Barringer also had four aces. Baer led the offense with 38 assists.
Johnson led the net attack with 14 kills, followed by Boano with 13 kills and Barber with five kills. Barber also had team-highs of 21 digs and six blocks.
Courtney Smith led RVHS with 10 service points, followed by Brianna McGuire with seven points and Ashley Gilmore with six points. Alex Truance and Jessi Steele were next with five points apiece, while Angel Toler and Jacey Walter each contributed four points in the setback.
Steele and Walter both paced the Lady Raiders with two aces each. Smith also led the offense with 11 assists.
Walter recorded a team-high four kills, followed by Truance and Steele with three kills apiece. Steele also had both of River Valley’s blocks in the match.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.