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Girard sweeps Poland to keep season alive

GIRARD — It’s been a magical season for the Girard Indians volleyball team, and they continued it with a straight-set victory over Poland 26-24, 25-20, 25-14 in the Division II district quarterfinals at home on Saturday.

The win moves the No. 2-seeded Indians record to 23-1 and set a new school record for victories in a season.

“It’s been a record setting season for us,” Girard coach Phil Walters said. “The kids have been getting better throughout the year which I’m excited about. We’ve been working on blocking issues, passing, hitting, everything. We’re really jelling.

“We had a couple of injuries to our big hitters, and this is the first time we’ve had them back on the court.”

Senior Seyhan Dede touched it over for an early Indian lead, but Poland senior Lexi Kalicatzaros smashed the ball and served up a 17-9 advantage for the Bulldogs.

Girard came back, with nine straight points, thanks to some left-handed wizardry from sophomore Bree Latell. Junior Allison Durkin finished off the comeback with some solid serving. Poland senior Kenzie Szolek dug it out by diving to the floor and her teammate, junior Morgan Bailey, spiked the ball with authority as the Bulldogs kept up the pressure.

“In the beginning, we came out fighting,” Poland coach Aleah Diamond said. “We came out playing hard. We competed. Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way. That’s a good team on the other side of the net.”

Multiple kills from high-flyer Lauren Pallone helped Girard gain control. A block by Esra Dede put the Indians in front, and an ace from senior Gianna DelGarbino helped Girard close out the second.

“This season has been even better than we expected,” DelGarbino said. “I’m glad that my last season has gone so well.”

After a block by Poland junior Katie McDonald, the Indians were up 12-11 in the third. Another huge kill from Pallone extended the lead. Superior serving from freshman Bailey Walters finished off the match as she placed one ace after the other.

“Spot-serving is where it gets harder,” she said. “To be able to put the ball in the right spot is probably the best way to serve. All it takes is consistency. You have to be smart with the ball. You have to be able to place it.”

Girard will face Lakeview, for the third time this season, in the next round of the tournament on Wednesday.

“It’s going to be tough,” coach Walters said. “Lakeview is always crazy good. We always have good matches with them. I don’t like playing the same team three times. It’s tough. We both know each other inside and out. So, it’s going to be a great battle.”

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