Galion overcame a shaky start to win its opening match of the season on Tuesday. The Lady Tigers rallied from a set down to defeat Bellevue in four sets, 20-25, 25-23, 25-13, 25-20.
“It’s good to get a win, especially against Bellevue, because they’re a good team,” said Galion head coach Jamie Valentine. “It was a big win tonight.”
Valentine said her ballclub’s slow start was due in part to a shake-up in the lineup that she was forced to make this week.
“We had to throw some girls in some new positions that they hadn’t been working on (Monday),” Valentine said. “That first game was really stressful. I’ve got three returning varsity players. The rest are of them out there, this is their first go at this. I could just see the uneasiness. Every single timeout we had I just kept talking about confidence and telling them I wouldn’t put them out there if I didn’t believe in them.”
Like Galion, Bellevue is a team in transition this season after losing its four top players to graduation in May.
“We’re still learning to mesh together,” said Lady Red head coach Karen Irons. “I only have three hitters with varsity experience and a new setter, so we’re still just trying to get used to each other. They showed they can play in that first game, now we just have to be able to sustain that. They have to start believing in themselves and not doubt themselves. They have to believe in their abilities.”
After a pair of back-and-forth sets to open the match, the Lady Tigers established their dominance in the third set. Nursing a 5-4 lead early in the set, Galion exploded, putting together an 11-1 run to build a 16-5 cushion. Bellevue (0-2) never recovered.
The momentum of the third set carried over into what would be the final set in Galion’s victory. The Lady Tigers (1-0) jumped out to an 11-4 lead and pushed their advantage to as much as nine points. The Lady Red manufactured a rally of their own, however, cutting the Galion lead to just two points on two occasions down the stretch. Galion went on a 5-2 run to close out the set after Bellevue pulled to within 20-18.
“We kind of let them back in in that last game,” Valentine said. “We’ve been preaching to them about not letting teams go on runs and we’ve been doing a much better job of that. In fact, we were the one doing it tonight.”
Taylor Valentine led the Lady Tigers with 23 kills. She also had 17 digs and two blocks. Chloe McCleese had 11 kills and one block.
Bradlee Saterfield finished with 39 assists and six digs. Marisa Gwinner recorded nine kills, five blocks and served for 10 points, including one ace.
Ashley Flowers had a team-high 21 digs and handed out five assists. Gabby Abouhassan finished with three kills and three blocks. Kiki Staton served 11 points and recorded two aces.
Galion travels to Willard on Saturday for a 10 a.m. match.
Bellevue plays a tri-match with Clyde and Fremont Ross on Thursday.
Reach Carter at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048, or on Twitter @ACGalionSports.