GIRARD - Lakeview High School volleyball coach Scott Taylor insisted there weren't any major changes made during a timeout at a critical juncture of the Bulldogs' showdown with Girard.
Lakeview won the first game, but it was down, 24-21, in the second game, and the Indians were on a roll. So, Taylor called a timeout, but there wasn't any rah-rah speech or fiery tirade during the break.
"We just told them, 'Relax, play your game. You can't do anything about what's going on other than doing your job,' " Taylor said. "And they went to the back line, and I think it was Lauren Casassa, she went back there and did her job by serving tough. And that's what she does."
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Lakeview’s Calli Schmitt (9) and Caitlin McDivitt (2) defend against the shot of Girard’s Taylor Bell (23) as teammate Marissa Hollis watches.
The rest of the Bulldogs followed suit, especially Calli Schmitt, who slammed three straight kills and helped lead Lakeview to a 28-26 victory. The Bulldogs finished things off in the third game and won the match in straight sets, 3-0.
The All-American Conference, National Division victory gave Lakeview (16-4, 8-0 AAC) a share of the league title. Girard claimed the championship last year, beating Lakeview twice to earn the crown.
The Bulldogs, who already beat the Indians once earlier this year, have two league matches left to wrap up an outright championship.
"This basically was for the league," Taylor said. "If we would've lost today, we might have tied. So, there was motivation."
Girard (9-10, 6-2) had plenty to play for as well, and the Indians were a point away from stealing the momentum and sending their home crowd into an uproar, but it wasn't meant to be.
The Indians didn't go without a battle though.
They responded, more times than once, following the brief collapse from their 24-21 advantage. Lakeview took the lead after a strange situation occurred in which the officials disagreed on a call, and the volley was restarted. The Bulldogs eventually won the point and went up, 25-24, but Girard knotted the game back up at 25. A serve into the net quickly ended any momentum for the Indians, and it allowed Lakeview to regain the lead. Girard again fought back to tie it at 26, but the Bulldogs scored the final two points, the last coming on a spike by Marissa Naples, who led everyone with 15 kills.
"They just didn't make mistakes, and we did," Girard coach Phil Walters said. "Going down the stretch, you can't make mistakes, and I think we tensed up a bit. We saw the win, and I think we thought we already won the game, and you have to play every point. We didn't address the game the way we should have."
Girard was in dire need of the win after losing Game 1, 25-19. The Indians were up in the first game, 12-6, and were giving the Lakeview offense all kinds of problems, but the Bulldogs found their rhythm midway through and rolled to a 25-19 victory. While Lakeview might not have been in a huge hole by losing, Schmitt, a junior who played a huge role in the comeback, said the second game is usually the most important, especially against Girard.
"They're known to come back and attack in the second game and try to win, and we didn't let that happen," she said. "We held our ground and we pulled through."
Schmitt finished with 13 kills and trails only Naples, one of the top players in the area, in overall team points. Schmitt really came to life late in Game 2, with Lakeview down, 24-21. She scored three straight points to tie the game and was constantly hammering down kills throughout the match.
She said she never lost hope that the Bulldogs could come back, and that the big plays were mainly due to her teammates.
"I'm not going to give up on my team, and I hope they wouldn't want to either, so I did (think we had a chance)," she said. "Our passing was the main thing. If we don't have a good pass, we don't get a good set and we don't get a kill. And as soon as we get a good pass - the set, the kill, it just all comes together."
Lakeview must win one of its last two games against either Campbell or Jefferson to claim an outright league title. Girard would tie for the title if the Indians win both of their remaining matches and Lakeview loses both.