Niles’ furious rally sinks Girard

NILES — The Niles McKinley Red Dragons (5-0) maintained their perfect record after a close call against the Girard Indians.

The Indians took the first two sets, 25-11 and 25-23, respectively. With all momentum, it appeared that the match was over.

The Dragons didn’t see it that way however, winning the third set in a 25-22 nailbiter before winning the fourth set 25-16. They finished the comeback by taking the decisive fifth set, 15-8.

“They took it to us the first set,” Red Dragons head coach Ron Slipkasky said. “Last year Girard beat us in four sets, so maybe they had the mental edge, but we worked very hard this summer. After the first set we got focused, lost a tight second set 25-23, and then we played with energy the last three and won them all. The girls played hard, and they played very good volleyball.”

Senior captain Keara Taylor Hall scored 20 points on the night with eight kills, leading the team. Junior Madlyn Moran was close behind, scoring 17 points of her own in addition to her six kills.

The undefeated Red Dragons were taken to the brink for the first time this season, going down 2-0. Despite his team having their backs against the wall, Slipkasky never lost faith in his girls.

“I’m very confident in my team,” Slipkasky said. “I have four seniors, great senior leadership, and a lot of experience back from last year. I think when the game is on the line, they’re going to perform and make plays. We play together as a team. There’s no arguing on the court, it’s all fun. We have a ‘next point’ mentality. All we worry about is the next point every time. I thought they did a really good job of that at the end of the night.”

Captain Jane Parry was more than willing to spread the ball around, chalking up 25 assists. Julia Bonneau led the team in digs with 17.

Looking to recover, Girard heads to South Range to take on the Raiders, while Niles aims to keep the win streak going when they head to Hubbard to face off with the Eagles.

“Hubbard is one of our other rivals,” Slipkasky said. “They beat up on us last year, too, and I think we’re going to give them a little surprise next week.”