A big rally came up short for Greenwood in the opening game of its season-opening volleyball match Monday against Mena.
But the momentum was still on the Lady Bulldogs’ side from that point forward as they won the next three games — including a dominating performance in the third game — to win in four, 20-25, 25-23, 25-6, 25-22.
Mena (0-1) was up 13-4 early in the first game before the Lady Bulldogs rallied late, getting within four before the Ladycats finally prevailed. But Greenwood (1-0) began taking control in the second game, primarily using a front line consisting of 6-foot-3 freshman Maddie Pfeifer, sophomore Erin Black and junior Caroline Scott, which helped the Lady Bulldogs take a 20-11 lead. With the Lady Bulldogs up 24-23, Maddie Gilliam — one of two Greenwood seniors on the roster — came up with a kill to even the match.
"I thought we came back a little too late in that first game, but we talked about it in between and they came out and did a good job of battling back and making sure that we did what we were supposed to do," Greenwood coach Jennifer Golden said. "We looked at a few changes of where they were blocking and where (Mena’s) defense was and we told them to look at certain places and we made huge plays at the right time that I thought was a game-changer."
In the third game, it was all Greenwood. Behind more strong hitting from Gilliam and serving from junior Callie Harmon, the Lady Bulldogs scored the first nine points and cruised from there. Later in the third game, Black had two aces and a kill during a 6-0 run and senior Courtne Climer made strong plays at the net to put Greenwood up in the match.
"I think we kind of surprised them but I credit a lot of what we did (Monday) to our serving, I thought we had excellent serving," Golden said. "I mean I was calling serves and the girls were literally putting the ball exactly where I was asking them to."
Greenwood trailed 3-1 early in the fourth game before consecutive kills from Scott and Gilliam ignited an 8-0 run, with Scott’s block up front capping the run. An ace from Black later extended the Lady Bulldog lead to eight. Mena fought back to within two at 24-22. But on match point, Gilliam delivered an uncontested kill to the back corner.
"That third game, I don’t even remember that third game, I don’t guess it existed but outside of that, we’re a young team," Mena coach Brad Lyle said. "We’ve got three or four seniors that carry us but we also have three, four or five sophomores and this is the growing part of it and our goal is to get the team ready for conference season in a few weeks and this will help us as long as they come out of this understanding what their goals were and understanding what we need to get better at, we’ll be just fine."
Gilliam finished with 15 kills, 10 digs and two blocks, while Black had 12 kills, two blocks, six digs, six aces and 20 assists. Junior Ariel Pinkston added 15 digs, Scott recorded eight kills, two blocks and five digs and Climer had six kills and one block.
Mena got five kills each from seniors Natalie Rose and Maegan Kent, along from sophomore Daryan Torix.
High School Volleyball
Greenwood def. Mena 20-25, 25-23, 25-6, 25-22