ANSONIA – The Ansonia volleyball team won its senior night match on Tuesday, defeating Cross County Conference foe Tri-County North in four sets, 19-25, 25-17, 25-19, 26-24.
“I thought the girls played outstanding,” Ansonia coach Craig Riethman said. “It was definitely a team effort. Wonderful senior night for the ladies. They played hard. They stayed focused throughout the game. They limited North’s runs. We weren’t perfect by any means, but we’re not going to be. I was proud of how they came back and stayed positive throughout the entire night.”
Prior to Tuesday’s match, Ansonia honored its six seniors: Aliya Barga, Emily Bennett, Ryleigh Cloyd, Katelyn McKenna, Bailey Stammen and Leah Wilburn. The seniors all started the match and played together throughout the opening set.
“It was fun for the ladies,” Riethman said. “They work hard all year, and they deserve a night like tonight. I definitely wanted to give them that, give them an opportunity to see what they could do together. They had to adjust because they were in different positions, and they did a nice job of that. It was good to see them play together one last time all on their home floor.”
Playing all six seniors simultaneously forced some of the girls into new positions and also required McKenna to play through an injury.
“We played a whole different lineup there with all the seniors in,” Riethman said, “and Katelyn McKenna, she might have a broken foot, and she came out there and played the first game as well as she could. She was hobbling around. She was still giving it her all. That was really cool. That was really cool to see.”
The senior lineup kept the game close for the first half of the opening set before Tri-County North went on a 13-7 run to close out the game, 25-19.
After the first game Ansonia went back to its normal lineup and took control. The Tigers won the second and third games 25-17 and 25-19 to go up two games to one.
After having the upper hand throughout the second and third sets, Ansonia was challenged in the fourth as Tri-County North came back from a 20-16 deficit to tie the game at 22-22. However, the Tigers were able to pull out the 26-24 victory and win the match.
“I don’t think that at any point in that game they thought about losing the game,” Riethman said. “I think they were thinking about how they were going to win the entire time. And that’s what we’re trying to get to, and it’s a good time to get to that going into tournament here.”
Barga and Stammen led Ansonia with seven kills each in Tuesday’s match. Stammen also had 11 assists. Chelsea Noggler had a team-high six aces while Barga had five. Trinity Henderson led the Tigers with 16 digs, and Barga added 15.
Ansonia improved to 6-15 overall and 5-6 in the CCC with Tuesday’s win. The Tigers will finish the regular season on Thursday at National Trail before beginning the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament next week.
In the meantime Riethman is enjoying his final moments getting to coach this year’s group of seniors.
“I’m going to miss seeing them come in and work hard every day in the gym, and I’m going to miss having an opportunity to grow and make them better individuals,” he said. “This senior group has a bright future outside of high school, outside of volleyball, outside of athletics. They’re very, very strong women, and they’re going to make a difference.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.