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Girard set for another playoff run

Junior Allison Durkin records 1,000th career assist in first-round playoff victory

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Girard junior Allison Durkin (center) reacts with teammates Lauren Pallone (left) and Maddie Malito (right) after recording her 1000th career assist Wednesday evening at home versus Chaney.

GIRARD — Family, it’s what the world of sports creates.

The special bond that’s created through triumphs and failures surrounds kids as they grow up.

Their teammates aren’t just their teammates, they don’t just don the same colors, they’re legitimately friends, created through athletics, on and off the court.

When you walk into camp for the first time as a fifth grader, there’s a whole world that opens up.

For Girard junior Allison Durkin, enrolling in Phil Walters’ volleyball camp many years ago began a journey along with five other juniors that has led to plenty of success for the Indians program over the last few seasons.

Leaving the regular season with a mark of 21-1 following a 21-game winning streak to begin the campaign, the Indians opened up their Division II playoff run with a 3-0 sweep at home over the Chaney Cowboys.

Perhaps the biggest moment Wednesday evening came in a 2-2 tie during the first set, after Durkin recorded her 1000th career assist as a junior.

Hitting that milestone as a senior? Tough. Reaching it as a junior? Now that’s special.

“It’s very difficult, there’s some ups and downs with it, but you just have to pull through and work hard,” Durkin said. “Your team is there to back you up, the coaching staff, it’s just such an amazing feeling to have someone behind your back like that.”

Growing up with the same girls adds to the excitement of the journey, for Durkin, who’s a setter for the Indians.

“It’s actually really fun, we’ve had such a great bond since we were younger, with club and everyone starting together, and coach Walters, it’s been really fun, really exciting,” Durkin said.

For Walters, the setter is a position that’s under-appreciated by many, but is a position that he views as vital.

“Everybody looks at the flashy kills, they don’t look at the setter,” Walters said. “The setter, is the one that I say, is the one that sells, because that’s your quarterback, and Allison has done a wonderful job.”

Posting 21 assists against Chaney Wednesday evening, Durkin couldn’t reach her personal milestone without the likes of fellow junior Lauren Pallone who posted 15 kills versus the Cowboys. Pallone also tallied three digs, with freshman Bailey Walters recording ten aces.

“That was really big for (Durkin), junior year, that’s amazing, I’m really glad that I can help her out with that, that’s a really big accomplishment for her,” Pallone said. “Me and her have pep talks every time, I’m like Allison, I can do this for you, it’s a duo, it’s just not one, it’s both of us together.”

The Indians (22-1) won their first 21 matches prior to falling 3-1 to Canfield during the regular season finale, with the winning streak off their backs, Walters feels that a reality check was beneficial prior to the playoffs.

“I am okay with a loss, I’ve often said that in the playoffs, I don’t mind playing the undefeated team, because they got their backs against the wall, and they’re thinking about that,” Walters said. “It’s nice to throw a loss in there to let them see that they’re human.”

Girard faces a Poland team on Saturday that’s coming off a 3-2 comeback victory over Geneva.

“I’m so excited, we’re really excited to go on a big run and show what we can do, so we’re excited for Saturday,” Durkin said. “We’re very dangerous, it’s very exciting, I think we have a really good chance of going far, and we prepared all season and all summer for this, so it’s go time.”

sports@tribtoday.com

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