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Lady Pirates claim state runner up title

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Lady Pirates claim state runner up title

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There were many things to defend this fall for the Girls Varsity Volleyball team. So when they had to choose a motto for this season, they choose “Defend until the end.”

The team felt that this saying represented their team all around. They were defending all the great achievements they accomplished last season such as, Conference Champs, Regional Champs, and Sectional Champs.

As well as defending their titles, all season the Pirates have focused hard on their defense. “Coach has been telling us since this summer during open gyms that we know we can hit the ball,” said Mackenzie Muehleip ‘20. “But, if we want to go anywhere this season our defense had to improve.”

This volleyball season has been the most historic in Galena Volleyball History. All season long the team worked  hard towards one goal. This goal has previously been thought unreachable, but on Friday November 2nd in Oregon, Illinois the dreams of 16 girls finally came true.

The GHS Lady Pirates beat Harvest Christian Academy in two sets, 25-16 and 25-19 to claim the coveted Super- Sectional title. Last year the Pirates fell to the Lions in the super sectional game.

“We didn’t want it to go to a third game. We lost to this team last year and we weren’t going to let history repeat itself,” said McKenna Curran ‘20. “We wanted this win more than anything else. We had worked so hard for it”

The team came out with a strong win. Morgan Wills ‘19 had 17 kills, Muehleip ‘20 had 10 blocks, and Samantha Stoffregen ‘19 had 18 digs. The game ended with an ace from Sami Wasmund ‘20.

As soon and the ball dropped for the 25th point the celebrations began. The dreams of many had come true. The Galena Pirates were State bound.

The team had a strong season leading up to this game. First they claimed the conference title with a record of 13-0, a perfect conference season.

They swept all the earlier season games in two but the end of the season was a different story. “We played three of the strongest teams in the conference at the end of our season and went to three with all of them” said Drew Wasson ‘19.

The Pirates went to three games with Eastland, Lena-Winlow, and Stockton at the end of their regular conference season. “We pulled out three wins against really strong teams,” said Wasmund. “I think it was important to play the tough games going into the end of our season, to ensure we were playing at the highest level possible going into the State Tournament.”

Two tough tournaments also helped the Pirates gear up for the postseason. They first attend a tournament in Chicago at Latin High School on October 6.

“We go to this tournament every year knowing they we are going to have really good competition,” said team captain Wills. “We were hoping playing these tough games would help us get really for the postseason.

During the first game of the tournament, Wills was injured and the team came away with a 1-4 record. “It wasn’t exactly the outcome we were looking for,” she said. “But playing these tough team definitely showed us where we needed to improve if we wanted to achieve our goal of making it to State.”

The next weekend the team traveled to another tournament in Champaign at Saint Thomas Moore High School. “We finished this tournament 4-1 and our loss was in the semi-final game,” said Maddie Miller ‘20. “It was important to come to this tournament because we got a chance to play some high caliber 2A teams that we could possibly see in the state tournament.”

The next big games that the Pirates played were the IHSA State tournament games.

The team won their fifth Regional championship in a row, beating West Carroll and Fulton.

Then they went on to win Sectionals beating Forrestion and Lena-Winslow. After all the previous excitement, the team took it a step further to their Super-Sectional win.

For the first time in Galena Volleyball history, the pirates played in Red Bird Arena in Bloomington Normal, Illinois. “Being able to compete at State is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Sawyer Quick ‘19. “I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of such an amazing accomplishment.”

On Friday November 9, the girls played the Nashville Hornnets in the semi-final and won the match easily with record breaking scores of 25-14 and 25-2.

“Being able to hold a team to two points was insane, we never thought that was possible,” said captain Stoffregen. “I think we were ready to go and once we made our run the other team just shut down.”

The next day didn’t go as planned for the Lady Pirates. Pleasant Plains won the State Championship with scores of 25-18 and 25-20. This left the Pirates as State Runner-ups.

Even with the loss, the town as well as the team could not have been more proud.

The team returned home with a fire truck escort from Elizabeth. At Galena Middle School the team was welcomed home by the GHS pep band and bleachers full of their supporters.

“All weekend long the stands were filled with Pirate fans,” said Grace Wilhelm ‘21. “It was unbelieveable how many people traveled to Bloomington and how many people were at the middle school Saturday night. That kind of support helped us stay positive during our state weekend.”

“We fought hard but we did come up a little short,” said Muehleip. “Even though we didn’t leave the court as State Champions, we left the court with our heads held high. I could not be more proud of everything we’ve accomplished this season, and playing in a State Championship game is a memory that will last a lifetime.”

 

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