NEW ALBANY —
After towering New Washington middle hitter Caroline Ricks sent another kill to the Christian Academy floor to give the Mustangs a 7-1, two-set lead, it looked like the Warriors were simply overmatched in Saturday’s Class A sectional volleyball final.
But senior middle hitter Rachel Boesing knew better. In rallying to turn back the Mustangs (20-10), in a five-set thriller, Boesing said it was a matter of faith.
“I think we knew that we had worked too hard and that we weren’t going to go out that way,” said Boesing, who contributed nine kills and five blocks in the win for Christian Academy (24-5). “This is an amazing group of girls and we were going to continue to fight.”
The Warrior front line of Emily Haworth and sisters Rachel and Krista Boesing went to work after Ricks’ kill made it 7-1 in the third set and stormed back to capture the third set 25-19.
During the third set, Krista Boesing nailed five of her 12 kills and Haworth four of her team-high 16 kills, and were aided by crisp passes off the hands of freshman setter Alex Falcone, who aided her teammates with 36 assists.
According to coach Walter Pauly, the passing and defense was as much a key to the comeback victory as the hitting from the Boesing sisters and Haworth.
“Our model for a few weeks has been to ‘press on,’” Pauly said. “It’s part of a Bible scripture and it means to be relentless ... when we pass the ball well we can put the ball away against a lot of teams. With a lot of kills, our outsides came up big tonight.”
During a see-saw third set, New Washington took a 22-21 lead after Mustang hitter Ashley Johnson’s kill split the Warrior back line. It was tied at 24 after another Johnson kill — but a net violation by New Washington — and kill attempt from Ricks that sailed long knotted the match at two sets apiece.
In the fifth and deciding set, New Washington led 6-4 after an ace from Tara Edens, but the Warriors notched four of the next five points to capture the lead for good. Three of those points came on kills from Krista Boesing.
It was a disappointing end to a New Washington season that resulted in a lot of success. The Mustangs will see many pieces, including the 6-foot-3 Ricks, returning next season.
“They just picked up the tempo a little bit, and I think we faded a little bit,” said New Washington coach Michelle McCutcheon. “But that’s the way sectional play is. It goes back and forth, and things just went their way tonight.”
Ricks notched 17 kills and seven blocks for the Mustangs, and Ashley Johnson added nine kills.
Christian Academy faces a tall order next week in hosting the Class A Loogootee Regional on Tuesday night. The Warriors face No. 4 Trinity Lutheran, the defending semistate champions and winners of the Orleans Sectional on Saturday, at 7 p.m.