Girls Varsity Volleyball
Game Summaries & Headlines.
The Forge Eagles advanced to the 6B Regional Final on the strength of a dominating 3-0 victory over the Cosby Titans on Thursday night at The Forge. The Eagles put together probably their best performance of the season in dispatching the Titans and the sheer emotion of the evening exploded from each player at the end of the match.
It has been been a well documented struggle for the upperclassman on this team, and while the expectations haven’t wavered among the players, this group is making sure the final chapter for the seniors is written into a great ending. A great group who has battled through a 20-26 record the last two years, now is enjoying one of the best turnarounds ever, with a 21-3 mark this year. “This feels amazing”, said junior Kailey Schoolfield post match. The feeling was shared by her teammates as they will now host the Franklin County Eagles on Monday night @ The Forge in the regional final. The victory also punched their ticket to the State Tournament and sheer joy and sense of accomplishment was planted on every players face.
Prior to this one, a confident group prepared to do battle. The music flowed down on the team as they warmed up and I was witness to some of the worst dance moves on record. “I think they’re ready” said Eagles Coach Courtney Guengerich with a laugh. Its a blessing these kids can play volleyball, because Dancing With The Stars isn’t calling anytime soon.
The first set the Eagles dominated and used a strong start and excellent net play from Schoolfield, Elyssia Smith, Kourtney Kynard and Emma Lazerson that allowed the Forge to take control early. The Forge increased their lead to double digits midway through the set benefiting on high flying kills by Simone Newell. The Eagles closed it out on an 8-2 run to take a 1-0 set lead after a 25-8 victory.
The play and the effort by the GREEN in the first set was worth repeating in the second. The Eagles never trailed in set number two and they took a commanding 2-0 lead into winning time. It was by far the best the “good gals” have played this year and the confidence was growing. When asked what was the difference in their play between the 2017 season and this season, Schoolfield had an empathic answer, “Last year we just gave up on everything. We thought we had it, and then we’d just give it away. This year, we know we have it, and we all work together to make it happen”.
They had complete control of the match but to Cosby’s credit, they didn’t go away quietly. Supported by a good group of fans, that stood behind their team, even with the end of their season staring them in the face. The Titans continued to battle, and actually had the Eagles down a couple of times before the home team would respond. On this night one of the more noticable factors in this match was this teams ability to adjust when challenged and their intensity never wavered. As dominating as the first two sets were for the Forge, it was their resilience that brought this one home in the third. The final set was knotted up at 13-13 when the Eagles went on a 12-3 run to close it out and turn their focus to the regional final and the Franklin County Eagles.
After the match, Guengerich gathered the troops and had an inspiring speech for her team. The euphoria of the victory didn’t allow me to hear the specifics of the speech but I did notice the last thing she did was point to the regional volleyball banner hanging in the Forge gym. “These girls want it bad” said the coach. “We now need some time to rest and deal with some of these injuries”.
Injuries aside, the growth and the strides this group has made this season has been just an amazing turnaround. “Coach Guengerich believed in us” said Schoolfield when asked about what the message was at the start of the year. “She had faith, and she said you guys can do this”.
So far, they’ve proven they can do it, and now look forward to hosting a regional final. The tests get tougher as they go into each round but unlike previous seasons, and in the words Schoolfield, “we are working together to make it happen”.