Columbus North volleyball coach Caitie Greiner was soaking wet following her team’s season-opening 3-1 victory against Shelbyville.
Not from perspiring during Thursday’s heated battle, but from taking the Ice Bucket Challenge immediately after the action. The icy liquid left her chilled, while her team’s play left her thrilled.
North won the first match 25-21 and held on for a 27-25 win in the second match before the Golden Bears answered back to take the third 25-21. The host Bull Dogs then closed out the evening, rolling 25-16 to clinch the series.
“I’m very pleased with the team’s performance,” said Greiner, with water still dripping off her. “I thought they showed a lot of composure after (Maliah Howard-Bass) went down with an injury and continued to work together.”
Howard-Bass rolled her ankle early in the second set with Shelbyville leading 6-3. North patiently pulled closer and trailed just 8-7 after Imani Guy’s straight-down power-kill. The 6-foot-4 sophomore was called upon to step in and fill the slot after Howard-Bass went down.
She didn’t disappoint, nor did others such as Anne Marie Kiel, Janelle Peters or Hannah Weaver.
They all found their moments to inflict damage on the Golden Bears, following the big-hitting duo of junior Avery Wendel and senior Makinsey Summa. The tandem combined for more than a dozen kills, including a huge hammer from Summa to clinch the opening game.
Fellow senior Karen Wildemann also displayed her experienced leadership, registering key plays throughout the evening as she set up the Bull Dog hitters, as well as surprise the Golden Bears with several quick dunks.
“We take pride that our players know how to play all the positions,” Greiner said. “That was evident tonight.”
Following the intense second battle that had both teams mounting impressive rallies, the Bull Dogs came out flat in the third match and were forced to regroup in order to regain momentum.
They built a 4-1 lead in the fourth game and never lost the advantage, despite Shelbyville making a pair of small runs. A block by Weaver pushed the Bull Dogs’ lead to 17-11 and moved to 21-15 minutes later after Wildemann set up Kiel for a kill.
Summa returned, once again, this time hammering down a kill to put North ahead 23-15 before winding down en route to the final score.
“Shelbyville came out strong in the third and put us in a hole,” Greiner said. “But we never changed our approach and came back strong in the fourth.”