Ally Geary will probably see plenty of time at outside hitter for Lincoln-Way North over the next two seasons.
For now, though,she’s a super sub.
Phoenixcoach Mary Brown couldn’t have picked a better time to sendher out Monday than at the end of Game 1 in North’s33-31, 25-18 victory over visiting Stagg.
The first game, played at a furious, intense pace, took its final turnwhen Erin Dilger put down a kill to break a 31-all tie and Geary rotated in.
“I was superexcited,” Geary said. “In situations [like that] coach wants to put me in to have a big block up. I try my best.”
The 5-11 junior stood tall on Stagg’s subsequent attack, recording the final block and bringing the marathon to an end.
Rachel Burkman had 12 kills and 17 digs, Valen Manns seven kills and seven digs, Dilger seven kills, Allyson Cappel six kills and eight digs, Maddie Wagner 27 digs and Samantha Ritter 32 assists as North improved to 9-1.
Stagg (3-6) was led by Lexi Mantas (16 digs, 17 kills), Ari Mantas (12 digs, 9 kills), Maddie Duffner (23 assists) and Amanda Collins (16 digs).
“I’ve never been in a game thatlong,” Dilger said. “We weren’ttired, though. The adrenaline was just pumping, and you want to get that next kill, that next block so much. And we conditioned a lot over the summer, so it kicked in.
“Stagg has always been a good team to play.We knew coming in that we were going tohave to push to get it.”
There were many role players that were the framework of a classic Game 1. But the stars of the show were Lexi Mantas and Burkman, who had 10 and 11 kills respectively.
Typical of the back-and-forth battle between the two, Burkman put North on the doorstep of victory at 24-22 with a monster hit from the left sideon a cross-court set from Ritter, only to have Mantasstep up, sandwiching kills around a block by Nia Pappas. Down 26-25, Burkman kept the Phoenix alive with a kill out of the middle.
“Our setter does a really good job splitting the block and our middles drag the other middle from the other team,” Burkman said. “It made it easy for me to hit the ball.
“When we won [Game 1] we were all so excited that it carried over into the second game.”
Stagg, which enjoyed leads at several points in Game 1, didn’t quite get there in Game 2, but the Chargers stayed close all the way up to 18-16, when back-to-back unforced errors and subsequent kills by Cappel and Manns allowed North to stretch out.
Inthe end, it was a battle that defied the records going in.
“It was honestly crazy,”a smilingLexi Mantas said. “We knew they were a really good team. We wanted to come out swinging. We played our best in Game 1, but we also tried our best in the second game.
“We were so exited to play them, so excited to get on the court. We really were hoping to win, but it doesn’t always go your way.”