ANSONIA – Ansonia volleyball team fell in three straight sets to Preble Shawnee 25-19, 25-23 and 25-19.
Although the Tigers came on up the short end Ansonia Coach Darcy Buckingham was very pleased with the effort and play of her team.
I told the girls after the game I was not disappointed but really proud of the way they played tonight and sometimes you lose to a better team and that’s what happened tonight.” Buckingham said.
The Tigers went down early in the first set but fought back to make the score 19-17 but Preble Shawnee finished the game strong to win it 25-19.
In the second set Preble Shawnee opened a 5-point advantage and with each passing point the tension was building on their side of the net as senior Carlyn George was nearing a couple of significant milestones for assist in a career and a season.
Coming into the game George only needed 15 assist to reach 1,000 for her career and 14 for 500 in a season.
George got that assist on a pass to teammate Harlee Howard who hammered it home. Howard was the first person to turn and run to bear hug her assist buddy along with libero Korrie Woodard and soon was joined by the rest of her teammates for the celebratory moment.
Play quickly resumed because it was decided that a game ball presentation wouldn’t take place until the set finished.
The Tigers who trailed by 7 fought back to close within a point and if not for a few service errors they could have snuck one away from Preble Shawnee. The arrows collected themselves just in time to win the set 25-23.
“If we could have kept our serve better it could have been a different game,” coach Buckingham commented.
Preble Shawnee coach Josh Evans wasn’t going to take it easy on Ansonia either.
“They are a good team and have a lot of seniors and not a team to take lightly, we almost let that game slip away,” Evans said.
“We had so much built up for that moment and once it happened (George assist record) we all kind of let go, it was like a sigh of relief to get it over and it took us a few moments to collect ourselves to get it going again,” Evans added.
Ironically when the game was going down the stretch it was the senior leadership of Carlyn George that proved to be the difference … only this time it was from the service line as she helped her team put the set away.
After the game Shawnee coach Josh Evans spoke on how the record setting moment took shape.
“Since day 1 of open gyms this year, she (Carlyn) asked if it was possible to get 1,000 assist and I told her, yes it is, you just have to want it and so she set the goal. Then after losing Bella Agee to an ACL injury, we switched from a 6-2 to a 5-1 which really helped bring that goal to light, and as soon as Carlyn realized it, she turned it on,” Evans stated.
Carlyn took a moment to also reflect on the achievement, something she gives credit to her outstanding teammates.
“My defense is just amazing out there the way they hustle, work hard and get me good passes so I can set-up our offense. My offense is just amazing, we have 5 great hitters with Harlee being one of the strong hitters on the outside and we work together so well, it’s the same with ours middles and the back row who have gotten so much better, which has all led to my being able to accomplish this goal,” George said.
When I asked her about being one of only two seniors and the leader on the floor who helped to pick her team up late in the second set you could tell she was all business.
“Being the senior leader on the floor is something I take serious with a lot of younger underclassmen. They are young and crazy, but I love them, you just have to work with them, and they listen to me, and we work so well together,” George commented.
Preble Shawnee went on to win the third set to close out the match which drew the praise of Ansonia coach Darcy Buckingham.
I get frustrated when we don’t play up to our abilities, tonight we played to our ability, we have nothing to be ashamed of and I tip my hat to a better team, and I believe it’s going to be a dogfight between them and Tri-Village next week.
The Tigers fell to 8-14 overall and 5-4 in the conference and have a big game on Tuesday at Franklin Monroe.
Preble Shawnee improved to 13-3 and 9-0 in the conference to keep pace with undefeated Tri-Village setting up a big Western Ohio Athletic Conference showdown.
“We are so young, and we weren’t sure how good we were going to be, but it’s been a great year,” Evans stated. Carlyn has led this team from day one since the beginning of summer and Harlee Howard and Cora Neihoff is just killing it … literally killing it,” Evans continued.
Currently Carlyn George leads the WOAC in Assist with 550 and Harlee Howard and Cora Neihoff are 1st and 3rd in Kills, Howard has 254 and Neihoff 169.
“The game with Tri-Village is setting up to be an offensive battle and an epic showdown,” coach Evans noted.
“Going into a new league we didn’t know what to expect and it’s been a great season so far, we’re doing well, and we just want to keep it going. We’ve given ourselves a chance to play for a title and to make a nice post season run,” George concluded.
With George leading and setting the way they might just do that.