For the first time since 2009, the Eminence Warriors defeated the Owen County Lady Rebels.
In that time, the Warriors hadn’t taken a game, let alone a match, from the Lady Rebels.
But Thursday night, the Warriors made history, and extended their record to 4-0.
The win came in a decisive fifth game, the team’s second in three days.
With the score tied at 11-11, Eminence had the serve and Renee Toole, the only underhand server on the court, served out the game for Eminence. The final point came on an emphatic kill by Tiffany Thomas into the deep right corner of the court, ending the game and sparking an emotional celebration for the team and their fans.
In the match’s first game, it looked as though the three-year trend would continue, as the Lady Rebels jumped on top 12-2 to start the match. Missed serves and passing errors by the Warriors contributed to the slow start and they weren’t able to recover in the first game. Owen won the first set 25-13.
In the second game Eminence again got off to a slow start and were down 4-1 early.
They clawed their way back and went ahead 6-5 for their first lead of the match. The run to go ahead featured an important dig by Destiny Dale and a kill by Emily Coomes. The game remained close but Eminence crept out to a 15-11 lead. The Warriors closed out the game on a 10-2 run to win 25-13, and tie the match at one game apiece. The game was a mirror image of game 1 with Owen having trouble with their serves and making many unforced errors, just as Eminence had in the first game.
The third game was more about how well the Warriors played than how poorly Owen County played.
The Warriors had several aces and kills and after getting down 4-6, went on to another 25-13 win to go up 2 games to 1. The game’s key point came with Eminence trailing 5-7. The Warriors went on a 10-0 run on the strength of Coomes’ serving — she dished up three aces — and Tiffany Thomas — who drilled several kills.
The run had the home crowd standing and cheering wildly for the Warriors. It was easily the best and most dominating stretch of the match.
But the Lady Rebels were not finished. They came back and took control in the fourth game with the score standing at 18-16 Owen County. The Rebels’ Courtney Wardrup put on a hitting show with 4 kills in a 7-2 run that gave the Rebels the game and sent the match to the fifth and final game.
After the game Coach Stephanie Barrows tried to explain the emotional impact of the win.
“We as a team have goals that we want to achieve and the closer we get to achieving them the more emotional we will get,” she said.
“This was a big game. Owen is a good team that we have not beaten in years. So I guess you could call this a statement game. A game that shows this is not a team that will lay down and get walked all over. They are strong and have the will to win!
“I will say for me as a coach to see them work together as one and really have the mental and physical strength to pull it out over such a good team made me so proud of them. I am glad that they are seeing that all their hard work from this summer is paying off.”
Barrows realizes that the team still has things to improve on and must stay grounded. “I think that we have some things still to work on as a team,” she said. “We have to stay focused and play our game at all times no matter what happens.”
Gallatin County 2
The Owen County game wasn’t the Warriors’ only 5-game match of the week. Two days before, the Warriors traveled to Warsaw to take on the Lady Wildcats, and came away with their first district victory of the season winning the match by a score of 20-25, 25-13, 25-16, 27-29, 16-14.
Barrows believed the team stepped it up when they had to. “I would say a key moment in the game is when they started playing as a team! I will say that when we had to pull out Madison Pittman, our setter, because of her leg cramping up; that was a huge turning point in the game,” she said. “The rotation that was put out on the court had never played without her. I think that they knew they had to step up and give their all to make sure they didn’t let each other down or lose the game.
“Another turning point is when they started≥≥≥≥≥ setting everything up and moving forward to their goal of winning the game.”
Barrows also praised two players who had strong games. “Emily had some really strong serves,” she said. “Gailynn started switching up some plays. She was a true leader on the court!”
Although the team is off to a good start, Barrows is looking for the team to clean up their play moving forward. “I think they played well. We made some silly mistakes like not calling the ball and not getting our serves over. I do believe that when we work on these few little issues they will play a lot better.”
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