There was plenty of excitement in the stands at Wheelersburg on Monday night as senior libero Ellie Ruby recorded her 1,000th career dig in a match against Raceland. Ruby entered the contest with 987 digs for her career.
Ruby and the Pirates gave the fans more than enough to cheer for, as Wheelersburg was able to win the match in straight sets as well. (25-21, 25-14, 25-14)
The historic dig was achieved in the second set, and Ruby received a standing ovation after the Pirates scored.
“It’s very exciting,” Ruby said about the accomplishment. “I was kind of nervous going in to the game because a lot of people were coming and I was hoping I was going to get it.”
Knowing the achievement was within her grasp, Ruby said she tried not to concern herself with the numbers during the match. “I tried not to focus on it, but then when they messed it up and everything was going wrong I was like “oh no.” Then, I was kind of nervous because no one was hitting me the ball,” Ruby said. “I was like “just hit it to me!” I wasn’t trying to keep track, but I kind of did.”
There was some confusion on the sidelines as Ruby neared her mark, but once she got close she couldn’t ignore the numbers anymore.
“I was back to serve, and I happened to look over at my coach at the serve positions and I saw 999 and I was like “alright, next ball”,” Ruby said with a smile.
Wheelersburg volleyball head coach Allen Perry was excited for Ruby, and gave credit to her former head coach for the feat.
“I’m just excited to have the opportunity to coach her for one year,” Perry said. “Coach Kendra Coleman, her previous coach, she just did a fantastic job and for three years she coached her and had her starting. She deserves more credit than I do.”
Perry says that Ruby is one of the nicest people off the court, and one of the hardest working on it. She often goes above and beyond to be there for her teammates and peers.
“She’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” Perry said. “She works so hard, she’s so kind, she’s always there for anybody when they need help or a kind word. She’ll just outwork everybody, she’s just such a hard worker.”
For Perry, Ruby was the leader that he hoped to have in his first season as Wheelersburg’s coach.
“She set the tone from day one,” Perry said about Ruby. “Coming in as a new coach and having a senior like that, you couldn’t ask for a better situation than I stepped in to.”
Amidst all the chaos, there was still a match to be played. Raceland was able to hang with Wheelersburg in the first set, but the Pirates pulled away later on in the match.
In that first set, things were deadlocked at 11-11 early on. From there, Wheelersburg went on a 6-1 run before Raceland head coach Sarah Linn took a timeout.
After the timeout, Raceland was able to make a push of their own, and even drew within a point when the score was 19-18 late in the set.
Perry felt that the Rams might present a challenge entering the contest. “I know coach Sarah Linn from Raceland, I coach with her in club season,” Perry said. “I knew that they were going to be ready to play some ball. She has a really young team, and they played really good defense and they just kind of kept us off balance.”
The Pirates were able to pull away towards the end of the first set, scoring four of the last five points to take command and grab a 25-21 victory.
In the second set, Wheelersburg relied on several more runs to give themselves a cushion. After trailing Raceland 2-1 to start the second set, the Pirates surged to an 11-4 run before Linn took a timeout with her Rams trailing 13-6 early.
The Rams were able to draw a bit closer with the score at 16-10, but Wheelersburg used a 9-4 push to claim the second set by a final score of 25-14.
In what was the final set, Wheelersburg won once more by a count of 25-14. The Pirates relied on a 10-3 run at the end of the set to pull out the win over Raceland in straight sets.
“I saw a really scrappy team tonight,” Perry said about the Pirates’ performance. “We relied a lot on defense. Our offense wasn’t clicking like it usually does, and we had to scrap.”
The defensive effort was led in large part by Ruby, who recorded 22 digs in the game. Ruby also recorded 17 service points.
Sophomore Alli McQuay made her presence felt offensively for the Pirates, with 10 kills, five digs, four aces and 14 service points.
Ruby felt the win was important for her team. “It was a big win,” Ruby said. “It’s a Kentucky team, so we didn’t really know what they were going to be like, but we came out and played scrappy, but ended up winning so it was a good win.”
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 or on Twitter @BSpicerPDT