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First looks are deceiving

Girard holds off feisty Hubbard

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Natalie Pallone of Girard kills the ball during the first set in her team’s 3-2 win over the Hubbard Eagles. The Indians started with a 2-0 lead, but had to hold the Eagles off in a fifth and deciding set.

HUBBARD — Girard looked as if it would roll early with two convincing sets against Hubbard.

The Eagles had other plans as it made the Indians work for a 3-2 victory Thursday at Hubbard High School.

Girard coach Chelsea Guerrieri said her team should not have let its guard down.

“Super frustrating, but you know what, I give Hubbard a ton of credit,” she said. “They played fantastic, they really did. They kept the ball in play, and they just continued to work hard. We just kind of became a little lazy, so thankfully some of our older players stepped it up. Kind of got on the other players and we were able to pull out a win.”

Girard dominated the first two sets (25-16, 25-12), but Hubbard flipped the script in the third set to go on a 9-1 run.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Haley Croyle of Hubbard watches after she blasted the ball over the net on a kill attempt during the second set of the Eagles’ 3-2 loss to Girard on Thursday.

The Eagles won the third set by a score of 25-11, then went on to take the fourth set 25-14 — setting up a pivotal fifth set.

Girard (7-4) won the fifth set by a score of 15-11, but senior Natalie Pallone felt the match slipping away.

“Pretty frustrating too, knowing that were up two sets and we went five,” she said. “We weren’t playing our best game, and we weren’t on it today. We just didn’t have the energy, and no one was really playing as well as we could.”

Pallone felt having the support of her teammates helped her out throughout the long match.

“I was down (in the) third set, but my team brought me up, and that really helped,” she said. “In the fifth set we were just excited. It helped a lot.”

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Girard’s Lauren Pallone prepares to hit the ball over the net Thursday against Hubbard.

Guerrieri knows Pallone is one of the key pieces to her team, seeing her rebound after a bad third set.

“I mean you can tell we obviously rely on (Pallone) for a lot of things,” Guerrieri said. “A lot of people look up to her and kind of look at her to kind of like execute when we need her the most. So having her back was a real game changer for us — kind of helped us gain some momentum going into the fifth game.”

Pallone ended the game with 18 kills,18 digs, two aces and a block.

Senior Lexi Cochran saw her team make adjustments as the match progressed.

“Our offense changed up during the third and fourth set,” Cochran said. “We couldn’t really keep the ball in play. And then during the five game, we kept it in play more. I think that’s why we won.”

Cochran had a stat line that included 18 digs, 3 aces, and 11 service points. She also hit a milestone as she recorded her 1000th career dig during the match.

Hubbard (2-6) coach Bob Calvin knew his team battled back after being down 2-0 going into the third set.

“We started to play like a family, got fired up, got everybody moving, got everybody involved in the team,” he said.

He felt there can be positives from taking a tough Girard team to five sets.

“Very proud of them,” Calvin said. “I think this is a building block to get us better for the rest of the year.”

Meanwhile, Guerrieri feels her team could also pick up on a thing or two after Thursday’s close victory.

“Learn from it,” she said. “I mean that’s all you can do, bring all that into practice and just continue to learn from it.”

sports@tribtoday.com

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