SOLON– If you weren’t there, you missed a thriller.
The Solon Lady Spartans were hosting an opening round postseason game Monday, Oct. 24, against Williamsburg and dropped the first two games.
Then began a dramatic comeback that culminated with a 3-2 win and a throng of students celebrating at center court.
Solon advanced at the end of a five-game rollercoaster, 19-25, 22-25, 25-12, 25-15, 15-6.
The win placed Solon in a regional semifinal Thursday against Knoxville at Williamsburg. The Lady Spartans quickly dispatched Knoxville, 25-8, 25-8, 25-14.
Next up is the regional final Wednesday (tonight) against Fairfield at Washington, a point past which no other Solon volleyball team has passed.
Against Williamsburg, the Lady Spartans stayed in both games, but had difficulty stopping Williamsburg hitter Mackenzie Bigbee, as well as some of the Raider serves.
“Well, honestly, my heart was racing pretty fast in game one and two, but it wasn’t as much what we were doing as they (Williamsburg) were playing very well,” observed Solon Head Coach Kurt Trout. “Toward the end of game two, even though we lost, Williamsburg was starting to run out of steam, and we were starting to get digs and touches on Bigbee.”
When the Lady Spartans went to the locker room after game two, Trout tried to remain calm.
“Even though our backs were up against it, we told them not to panic, and just go out and play the game we were capable of playing,” Trout said. “Williamsburg was wearing out, and we needed to take a big deep breath, relax, and go play our style of volleyball.”
The advice worked.
The Lady Spartans dominated games three and four, and game five was almost a foregone conclusion.
In game four, Solon jumped out to an 9-1 lead with freshman Jordan Runge hitting her spots and Kelsey Cave and Reagan Johnson putting up a formidable wall against the Raider attacks.
Runge ended up leading the Lady Spartans with 14 kills; Cave had 11. Kelsey Hinrichs had 23 assists, 10 digs and four service aces. Emma Rickels had four aces as well, to go along with 11 assists.
Solon racked up 15 aces against Knoxville in the three-game win. Hinrichs led a balanced attack with 10 kills; Cave had nine, Johnson eight and Rickels had seven.
“Their record was decent, but they had not played the competition we have,” Trout said of Knoxville. “We have long maintained that playing in the WaMaC and going to the tougher tournaments makes us battle-tested for the playoffs. We were able to come out and establish our offense right away against them, and put them on their heels for the whole game. Now we need to do the same against Fairfield.”