CULVER — Heading into Saturday’s Culver Sectional championship match, Triton head coach Samantha Keel knew Marquette’s Zoya Ganz would be hard to handle.
The plan was to make the Blazers beat them with everyone else, but the sophomore outside hitter simply wouldn’t be denied, pounding out kill after kill, and the Lady Trojans fell in three games, 25-14, 25-20, 25-14.
“We were here on Thursday night, and my varsity assistant — which is my brother Colton — and I, we made the realization watching them play Culver that she was going to kill the ball, no matter what,” said Keel. “The girl is a whale of an athlete, she really is. Her coach should be very proud of her. We just knew that she was going to kill the ball, and if we could take out everybody else, that’s why you play with six people. She was on top of the ball, and we couldn’t stop her, so I give her credit.”
After trading points early in the first set, Marquette separated itself midway through the first game with a 7-2 run, ultimately holding off Triton 25-14. The Trojans started out down 4-1 in the second game before rallying to retie the game as late as 11-11, but after leading briefly at 10-9, were never able to retake the lead in a competitive 25-20 defeat. The Blazers rode that momentum to a 7-1 lead in the third game, and with its back against the wall, Triton was never really in the third game as the team closed out the season, 25-14.
“We are very used to playing down,” said Keel. “Like in game two we were down 4-1 and came back and were ahead by two at one point, but I think for a long time, that’s how they got used to playing and it’s hard to change things that quick. That’s just been our year this year — to start out four or five down and have to fight out of that hole.”
Triton closed out the year following a strong turnaround midway through the season in Keel’s first year at the helm. Saturday’s match represented the Trojans’ first sectional championship appearance since 2009, when the team also lost to Marquette in three games.
“I’m just proud of my girls. About midway through we’d had a really rough spot. I think a lot of teams have a rough spot about midway through, and they could’ve just looked at me and said ‘We’re done; we tap out,’ and they all hung in there with me,” said Keel. “I’m extremely sad that I will not be going to practice on Monday. Not for the sake of playing, but just because I’m going to miss my girls.”
Triton bids goodbye to a small but talented senior class in Shana Anderson — who finished the match with five kills and seven digs — Breanna Lemler — who notched five kills, two aces and a block — and Marissa Ross — who tallied 10 assists with a pair of aces and six digs versus Marquette.
“I cannot stress enough how much things have changed for my seniors from last year to this year, or even through their entire high school careers. I asked them to play a very different style of volleyball, and they have all responded very well,” Keel said. “Sometimes you revert back to your old ways just because you’ve been doing it for so long, but they have all made great improvements and have gone above and beyond anything I could ever ask. I’m very proud of my seniors, and I will greatly miss them. I’m sad I didn’t have more time with them.”
• MARQUETTE CATHOLIC 3,
TRITON 0 (25-14, 25-20, 25-14)
Kills: Shana Anderson 5, Breanna Lemler 5
Aces: Marissa Ross 2, Lemler 2
Assists: Ross 10
Digs: Emilee Koontz 11, Holly Stogsdill 9
Blocks: Lemler 1
TRITON 3, ARGOS 0
(25-19, 25-8, 25-12)
In his third year as coach for the Argos Lady Dragons volleyball, Jim Daugherty has seen improvement.
And Saturday morning, it looked like his team was going to put a scare into Marshall County rival Triton.
The Dragons were tied at 13-13 with Triton in the first game and as close as 20-17 later in that first game.
But Argos lost steam and fell in three games 25-19, 25-8, 25-12.
“I see the talent on this team,” said Daugherty. “It’s a matter of them believing in themselves.”
Without a senior on the team, Daugherty said his juniors have done a good job of leading.
And that was evident in the first game as the Dragons charged out of the gate.
Effective serving by junior Briana Overmyer kept things close early.
The Dragons also took advantage of some early unforced errors by Triton.
“We hadn’t lost a game all year to Argos,” said Triton coach Samantha Keel. “And that’s nothing against them. So when we were tied 13-13 in that first game, I think it was a wake-up call.”
“You know that when you play Argos you have to play hard and fast,” said Keel. “And we didn’t do that early.”
Keel pointed to a mid-season lull as the turning point of the Trojans’ season.
“We had Triton’s wrestling coach, Coach Thompson come in and talk to us,” said Keel. “He said you may have teams with more talent than you. But no team is going to out-prepare or outwork you.”
Keel said that resonated with her team and put them in a position for a sectional title.
After a timeout by Keel, the Trojans went on a 6-1 run to build a lead to 19-14 in the first game.
At that point, Argos took a timeout and clawed back to 20-17.
But it seemed all match, Triton was the beneficiary of winning long points.
“I think that comes down to mental toughness,” said Daugherty. “Our kids can do it. I’ve seen it in practice. It’s just a matter of getting them to believe when it comes to a match.”
Triton took all momentum away in the first game when freshmen Marissa Howard capped off a hotly-contest point to move the Trojans’ lead to 24-19.
Triton won the first game on the next point and took that confidence into the second game.
After jumping out to a 6-2 lead in the second game, Triton put its foot on the gas. At one point in the second game, the Trojans went on a 13-2 run.
Holly Stogsdill’s ace pushed Triton’s lead to 21-8 and the Dragons never scored again in the second game.
The third game was also all Triton’s as they cruised to a 25-12 win.
The closest Argos got in the third game was early on at a 6-5 deficit.
“This team works hard. We bust it at practice,” said Daugherty.
And with everyone returning for next year, Daugherty hopes to see that pay off in his fourth season.
• TRITON 3, ARGOS 0
(25-19, 25-8, 25-12)
Kills: Shana Anderson 10, Breanna Lemler 7, Emilee Koontz 6
Aces: Koontz 5, Krystal Sellers 3
Assists: Marissa Ross 22
Digs: Holly Stogsdill 7, Anderson 5, Sellers 5
Blocks: Lemler 3, Ross 2
Argos stats unavailable
Managing Editor Daniel Riordan contributed to this report.