By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
If it’s possible, the No. 7 ranked Fairfield High School girls volleyball team got off to too good of a start against the top-ranked Yorktown Tigers in the championship match of the Class 3A semistate Saturday night at Plymouth.
The Falcons held leads of 14-5 and 17-8 in the first set only to let Yorktown rally for a 25-22 win on the way a three-set victory and a berth in the state championship next Saturday on the campus of Ball State University. The Tigers took the final two sets by scores of 25-19 and 25-18.
“It maybe that we got off to too good of a start,” Fairfield coach Carla Herschberger said. “Our confidence was way high. But Yorktown’s ball control and serving was amazing. That’s why they at No. 1.”
“One of the things I told the girls early on was that we were not serving aggressively enough,” Yorktown coach Stephanie Bloom said. “Serving is one of our strengths.
“We have been down like this in a match before, but I don’t think we have come all the way back and won. We probably ended up losing by a point or two.”
The Falcons wrap up a remarkable season with a 35-2 record.
“That is the least amount of losses we’ve ever had in a season,” Herschberger said. “We had a team win 36 matches in a season before.”
Junior middle hitter Haley Brown had 12 kills and senior outside hitter Ellen Line nine to lead the Falcons.
“I think our hitters were better,” Herschberger said. “That is one of the cool things and also one of the frustrating parts of the game. Brownie can slam a ball that dents the floor and it counts the same as when Yorktown tipped the ball over our blockers.
“The other problem we had was Yorktown got us out of system so much by the way they play. The Tigers don’t make many mistakes, which is another reason why they are No. 1.”
The Falcons held on to the lead in the opening set until Yorktown junior Halle McKibben served an ace to knot the score 20-20. Fairfield regained the upper hand at 21-20 on a kill by Line. The Falcons’ last lead was at 22-21 after a Yorktown kill found the net, but the Tigers ran off three straight points for the victory.
The second set started out tight and stayed that way. Fairfield opened a 13-11 lead on a kill by Line. Yorktown took the lead for good at 14-13 when a Falcon hit the ball into the net. The Tigers went on to win as senior Nikki Box recorded two of the team’s final three points on kills.
Fairfield took a quick 2-0 lead in the third set on back-to-back aces by senior libero Raina Troyer. The Falcons still had the lead when a kill by Brown made the score 15-11. Yorktown kept inching closer and pulled to within one point (16-15). A tip by Falcon senior setter Riley Troyer made the score 17-15. A Falcon kill attempt into the net paired with consecutive aces by McKibben gave the Tigers the lead for good at 18-17.
“We told the girls we let them take the first game and once you lose the momentum it’s hard to get it back,” Herschberger said. “One thing we have improved on all season is the look on our faces. When a team comes back on us like Yorktown did we don’t let it show on our faces.”
After the match it was a different story as the Falcon players shed plenty of tears when the reality of their season coming to an end hit them.
“These girls have worked so hard during the season and out of season,” Herschberger said. “I’m so proud of them. Not just because of what they accomplished on the floor but off it as well. Every girl on the team is an excellent role model for the younger kids coming up.”
Besides Line and Raina Troyer it was the final match of excellent prep careers for fellow seniors Kaela Miller, Riley Troyer and reserve Claire Holsopple.
“The seniors have been involved in the program since 5th grade and when players are around the program for a period of time like that they take ownership in it,” Herschberger added.
Aces — Raina Troyer 2. Assists — Riley Troyer 28. Kills — Haley Brown 13, Ellen Line 9. Digs — Raina Troyer 10, Ellen Line 6, Riley Troyer 6. Blocks — Haley Brown 2 assists, Sierra Smith 2 assists, Kelsey Schiffli 2 assists.
Aces — Halle McKibben 5. Assists — Taylor Zwickl 40. Kills — Nikki Box 14, Courtney Chowning 9. Digs — Harlie Holding 17. Blocks — Courtney Chowning 1 solo.