NEW BOSTON — As comes with the fall sports season, the nights get longer and the days shorter, and the leaves begin to change from green to their typical fall shade.
Except in New Boston in a Southern Ohio Conference Division I volleyball contest on Thursday, as the Green Lady Bobcats helped keep those leaves green just a little longer.
After claiming the first set in a back-and-forth affair, the Lady Bobcats fell behind 2-1 after dropping straight sets to the Lady Tigers — but never faltered.
Instead, Green managed to rally — in both the fourth and fifth sets — to earn a 3-2 (32-30, 23-25, 12-25, 25-21, 15-13) league road win to improve to 3-3 in the young 2020 season.
New Boston fell to 4-4 with the loss, meaning following Thursday’s result both teams sit with a .500 record just three weeks into the regular campaign.
Following the win, Green coach Madi Gaffney spoke to what she saw from her team in its second SOC I win in as many tries this week.
“The motivation, the want and the will to win,” Gaffney said. “We talk about it all the time, you can’t just show up — you have to show up and play. Really, working on that will to win is something we’ve been working on with our younger team. This is my third year now with varsity, and every year we build on showing up, doing your job to the best of your ability and giving that 110-percent effort.”
Set one was a marathon, back-and-forth set which saw the Lady Bobcats narrowly edge New Boston 32-30 after multiple lead changes.
After Green took a 23-22 lead in set two following five straight points, New Boston made a rally of its own — scoring the final three points to claim the game 25-23 and even the match at 1-1.
New Boston took set three 25-12 in rather quick fashion, considering the close results of the first two games.
While it seemed as if the Lady Tigers were on their way to a four-set home Senior Night win, Green had other plans.
Green scored the final five points of set four after New Boston re-took the lead at 21-20 in the late stages of the set, winning 25-21 and forcing a winner-take-all first-to-15 fifth game.
New Boston’s lead at 11-9 was the last it would see — as the Lady Bobcats scored six of the final eight points to win 15-13 and notch another league win under their belt.
“There were times when our communication was there and what we needed, and then there were times we fell down and we’re still working on that consistency,” Gaffney said. “I think overall we did a great job on those minor details.”
Leading the game for Green offensively was senior Kame Sweeney who had a team-high 15 kills, while sophomore Lori Brown had 14 and junior Gracie Danieal had six.
Sweeney also added three blocks while Brown had one.
Senior libero Ava Jenkins had a team-high 12 digs, Marissa Boza had a team-high 20 assists, and sophomore Alex Smith had 18 assists.
For New Boston, senior Shelby Easter had 17 kills and 12 digs, while Kenzie Whitley had seven kills and 12 digs.
Cadence Williams finished with a game-high 30 assists and five ace serves, Dylan O’Rourke added 10 kills, and Ragen Helphinestine had six kills.
Green, like other area volleyball teams, did not know whether or not the fall sports season in Ohio would take place amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Following the most recent Ohio Department of Health Order prior to the start of games, fall sports competitions between schools were approved — and play began the week of Aug. 24.
Prior to that, Gaffney said her team would spend its time working to improve on some of the most important aspects for a young team to focus on.
“My girls, we didn’t get in the gym until almost the end of July,”Gaffney said. “We were outside in our front yard conditioning and passing volleyball. We had some go on vacation, so we didn’t really see each other until the week before the season started. The girls came in and worked really hard in some tough practices — they’re resilient girls.”
Green will travel to Western on Tuesday in SOC I play, while New Boston prepares to face defending league champion Notre Dame on its home court next Thursday.
“Communication, communication is key,” Gaffney said, of areas of focus for her team. “I think we need to swing more. When we swing, we win. Really just growing as a team. We have some young players that are doing a fantastic job, I can’t ask anymore of what they’re doing — all of them.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved