GREENCASTLE — Greencastle-Antrim girls volleyball coach Corry Eagler could not get a smile off her face after a District 3 Class 3A quarterfinal match on Thursday evening.
Her Blue Devils had just wiped out Garden Spot 3-0, including a 25-8 blowout in Game 3.
But early in the match, Eagler was definitely not smiling. She had just watched her daughter Abby Eagler go down with an ankle injury that kept her out of the rest of the match. Eagler is the team’s kills leader and she had already made three to that point.
“When Abby went down in the first set, I was worried,” coach Eagler said. “But the girls rebounded so well and some of the girls filled different roles to make up for it.”
“Abby going out really caught us off-guard,” defensive specialist Brianna Woodring said. “We were worried. But I think it ended up making us want it more.”
The Blue Devils (17-1), the No. 2 seed, will host No. 3 seed Spring Grove (16-4), which beat Manheim Central 3-0, in a semifinal match on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The top three finishers in districts qualify for the PIAA Tournament.
When Abby Eagler left the contest, G-A held an 8-5 lead and it built that lead to 13-5 with Morgan Kline serving for five points. But the Spartans, who finish 14-5, battled back into it until it was 24-21. But a back row kill from Wren Roberts ended the set, 25-21.
Garden Spot came out hot in the second game, with Ida Fisher and Avery Smith doing some good work at the net. The Spartans built a lead of 16-11, but that’s when Greencastle turned it around.
The Blue Devils scored 13 of the next 18 points to capture a 25-20 victory and go up, 2-0.
Masalyna Miller had two aces in that run, Mia Jones made back-to-back kills and Lily Kauffman scored a kill on two of the final three points, including the clincher.
Kauffman said, “We noticed what they were doing (to get the lead) and we knew what we needed to do — if we could keep them out of system, then it would keep their middles out of the game.”
Eagler said in a time out, they talked about the fact that the Spartans’ middle hitters were dominating play.
“I told them if they get a kill, it’s just one point,” she said, “but if we could get them out of system, they wouldn’t be able to do that.”
Greencastle picked up its serving and hitting the rest of the way and Fisher and Smith were not factors from that point on.
In the third game, instead of letting up with a 2-0 lead, the Blue Devils doubled down and played at a very high level, rolling to a convincing 25-8 win.
“We certainly didn’t expect a 3-0 game,” Woodring said. “We watched footage of them and they were pretty good.”
Kauffman and Alaina Garling each had a long run of service points, Jones had four kills and Emma Pool added a block kill during the set, in which G-A led by as much as 17-3.
Eagler said, “Our hitters were smart, putting the ball in the right places. Our serving was great and we elevated our game. We were very scrappy on defense. We were in system, so we could run three hitters. And for the first time all year we had more kills from the right side (with Garling putting down 10 kills).”
Jones had 8 kills and Kauffman, Kylie Kerns and Miller each had 5. The team came up with 9 aces, led by Kauffman (4) and Miller (3), and the points leaders were Kauffman (11), Garling (10) and Miller (8).
Garling (20 assists) and Kerns (17) took care of the setting, and on defense, Woodring had 15 digs, Miller had 10, Kerns 9 and Garling 8.