Top-seeded ’Rocks ousted

The Inter-Valley Conference sent two teams into the Division III Buckeye Trail District Volleyball Tournament Tuesday evening, the first match between upper-bracket No. 2 seed Garaway versus OVAC member and top-seeded Barnesville.

It wouldn’t be the Shamrocks night as the Pirates scored a straight set victory by scores of 25-23, 25-11 and 26-24.

Barnesville head coach Nikki McEndree knew Garaway came into the tournament with a deceptive 13-10 record, she also knew her Shamrocks were in for a battle.

“We figured they would be big so we tried to prepare for that in practice,” McEndree said. “I was proud of the way we came out and started strong against them tonight.”

The Shamrocks took an early lead in the opener and had the Pirates on the ropes early. Garaway would regain their composure and use a good passing game to set up their net play to bring the set back to even at 11-all.

The score would be knotted several times as the two squads traded side outs but it would be Garaway rallying at the critical moment to take the first set 25-23.

Despite boasting seven seniors on their roster, Barnesville lost the momentum and their composure in the second set as Garaway jumped out to an early lead as the Shamrocks struggled and quickly went up 2-0 punching out at 25-11.

“I thought we played very well in the first game and I was proud of the way we were able to come back in the third,” McEndree said of her veteran squad. “We were down 5 points and we battled back, I am not unhappy with any game where we battle.”

The Shamrocks came back from the deficit and took the lead 15-14. It would be a back-and forth battle from there as Garaway would hang tough. It would Barnesville with the first opportunity to close the deal with a 24-23 score but the Pirates would garner a side out and then use the kill to finish off the ‘Rocks earning a 26-24 decision to end the season for Barnesville.

“These seven seniors are a quality group of girls, they can leave proud because they battled all the way to the final whistle,” McEndree said. “We are really going to miss them.”

Senior Paige Gibbons led the Shamrocks with 12 assists, 11 digs, eight points with one ace and a pair of kills. Fellow senior Marrissa Burga notched four kills from her outside hitter position with eight digs and five points with two aces. Senior middle hitter Kelsey Douglas notched five kills, four points and one block. Senior Libero Sydney Bruce had 11 digs with one kill. Senior Lane Hanlon and Hunter Weiss both closed out their careers with the Rocks. Sophomores Paige Huntsman added eight digs with seven assists, three kills and two blocks, while classmate Miranda Plumly led at the net with seven spikes and a pair of digs as Barnesville closes its season ledger at 19-6.

In the nightcap, the Tuscarawas Central Catholic eliminated Frontier, 25-14, 25-18, 25-10 and move on to face Garaway Thursday in the district finals.