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PHS survives Catholic netters in five sets

Photo by Josh Hughes The Parkersburg Big Reds celebrate after a point scored by Maggie Sauers during the second set of their five-set win against Parkersburg Catholic on Monday.

PARKERSBURG –Late drama ensued in a five-set thriller on Monday, as the Parkersburg Big Reds went to Parkersburg Catholic and got the win, 25-15, 23-25, 25-15, 13-25, 15-10. The Big Reds answered challenges at the net to put away the first set by double figures. However, the Crusaderettes did not back down. Even though the PHS netters closed it out with a 4-0 run, Catholic had an answer in the second. Back and forth action intensified, as the home team stormed back into the contest with a 25-23 victory. The two teams traded blowout wins in the next two sets, and it was all down to the final set. A Crusaderette win in the fourth had the home crowd buzzing, as the Big Reds (6-3) responded with a 15-10 win to seel the deal in five.

Going into that final showdown, PHS net boss Erin Thorpe spoke to her squad in between sets, and it was motivation used to help snap a three-match losing streak.

“I said that we need to play our game,” Thorpe said. “We’ve struggled the last few games we’ve played. Our passing and our defense have really struggled. We had to go hard, we had to swing and be the aggressor. (Parkersburg Catholic) is scrappy, and their block is huge. We just can’t be intimidated by the big block. We’ve got to keep swinging, and we got out of that in the fourth set. I think that’s what killed us.”

Thorpe still had good things to say about how her girls battled back in the face of adversity while highlighting key performances.

“Anna Umpleby always shows up for us. She’s swinging hard,” she said. “Kisten Roberts (17 digs, three aces) showed up. She struggled the last couple games, but she really came in and swung big for us, as well. Beyonce (Pierce) and Lily (Wharton) blocked really well for us, and that’s something we really worked on the last couple of weeks. Mya Green is only a sophomore and has only played varity for two or three games, and she’s doing really well.”

An ability to take advantage of service errors and stay on the offensive drove PHS to the win, as the stat sheet filled up with contributions from a number of netters. Leading the way in kills for the red and white was Umpleby, with 19. She had a similar take to coach Thorpe, as she helped secure the win in the late stages.

“We struggled in the first couple, but we really just wanted to go out there and seel the deal. We’re going into Ripley (6 p.m. today), and we’ve got to play like we own it. We’re ready to not get in a scramble like we have been, but to show up.”

In their loss, the Crusaderettes fell to 2-2, but not without big showings all around. Senior Jenna Boice was busy all night with a match-high 32 assists, and fellow senior Aaliyah Brunny was a force around the net with 14 kills. Boice dueled with PHS’s Rylee Wise in the assist column, as Wise racked up 24 of her own in the contest. The performances from Brunny, Boice and Madison Ross (13 kills) led the way for PCHS, but head coach Amanda Weatherwax noted her team’s 16 service errors and how they played a role in the loss.

“We do have a lot of hard-working girls. I just think tonight, we let a lot of our errors get the best of us,” she said. “It’s a fast-paced game, and I’ll tell you, we love to play PHS. I tried to get them fired up and focused. We had several service errors that really hurt us. That’s something we can hopefully work on, and that’s the good news. When good teams force you into errors, it’s hard to dig yourself out. They definitely didn’t give up, and that’s something I’m proud of.”

PCHS continues its homestand when Tyler Consolidated rolls into town at 6 p.m today. In that match, Parkersburg Catholic sets its sights on ending a 2-match losing streak.

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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