Sibley garners volleyball victory over Titans

The Sibley Warriors' volleyball forces invaded Titanville Sept. 21 for a Classic Suburban Conference match-up with the Tartan Titans.

The Titans are defending conference champions who made it to a berth in the State Tournament a year ago.

What happened in the Tartan gymnasium wasn't supposed to. What occurred was the Warriors (who had dropped the first two games) came from behind to post a 3-2 victory over Tartan.

You might say, "Ho-hum."

But before you do, consider that the last time Sibley downed a Tartan team was back on Oct. 11, 1988. The score in that match was also 3-2.

Consider further, that in that 18-year span since last Sibley scored a win over the Titans, there have been 35 matches. In those 35 matches only once (on Sept. 26, 1991) was Sibley able to win two games.

In the 35-match win streak by Tartan, they allowed the Warriors only six games. The Titans dominated the Warriors by a count in games, 102-6.

Take the "Ho-hum" back!

"Sometimes it takes us a couple of games to warm up," smiled Simley coach Katie Naughton. "We're a solid team. I expected they would be able to come back. I knew even if we didn't win we would come back strong and at least compete. These are good kids who just don't quit."

The match began on a quiet note with Sibley jumping to a 4-0 lead. Slowly, the Titans came back and knotted the count at five.

That would be the last time game one was close. Brittany Baker, with Tartan trailing 2-5, went to the service line for Tartan and served eight straight points, including a pair of aces, to push Tartan to an 11-5 lead.

The Titans never looked back. At 15-12 Tartan, they got the ball on a Baker set (she ended the match with 32 set assists) and a Mattie McDonald kill.

Julie McCarthy went to the line and served six points, including two aces, to push Tartan to a commanding 22-12 leeway.

From there, it was just a matter of time before the Titans closed out game one at 25-14.

In game two, Tartan continued to capitalize on unforced errors by the Warriors. In game one Sibley committed 12 unforced errors and in game two, they had 13.

Tartan moved to 11-4 and 14-7 margins, but Sibley began to respond and showed some signs of coming back.

At 20-12 Tartan, Sibley knocked down three aces, one by Ellen Pankonien and two by Karis DeFelice, and pulled to within four at 17-21.

At that point the Titans got a set by Baker and a kill by McDonald and sent Kendra Hobbs to the line. Hobbs served out the game and Tartan claimed game two 25-17 and went up in the match 2-0.

Despite being down 0-2, Sibley was gaining momentum. Game three started with Sibley moving to a 5-2 edge. Tartan came back to tie. Sibley fought hard and knotted the count at six before taking an 8-6 edge.

Tartan picked up a point on a mis-serve, but a set by Mariah Beaman, who ended the match with 28, and a huge kill by Brigitt Turitto gave the Warriors the serve.

DeFelice went to the line. Several long volleys later and Sibley owned a 12-7 margin.

More importantly, they began to win the long volleys and were gaining momentum.

Sibley, with Katlin Stein at the service line, moved the count to 16-9.

But Tartan wasn't about to be overwhelmed. They got the ball on a net serve and Julie McCarthy served three points as Tartan pulled to within three at 14-17.

A Sibley timeout proved valuable. They picked up two points and, at 20-16, Pankonien moved to the service line. Sets by Beaman and kills by DeFelice and two more by Stein, coupled with an unforced Titan error, moved the Warriors to the brim (24-16) of winning their first game against Tartan since 2003.

Tartan picked up a point on a hit out, then gave the point back with they mis-hit the ball.

Sibley had moved the match to 2-1 and into game four.

The Sibley defense began to affect Tartan and they began more and more to play with less confidence.

Sibley quickly jumped to leads of 7-2 and 12-5.

Tartan came back with a super flurry when Baker set and the Titans got two kills each from McCarthy and McDonald to regain some momentum.

But the Sibley defense refused to give up. Slowly the count moved to 16-10. The teams exchanged points until a set by Beaman and kill by Stein gave the Warriors the ball and sent Beaman to the service line.

The sophomore floor leader served an ace and five points as Sibley edged to a 23-12 leeway.

Tartan got the ball back on a block by Jenna Ecker but Beaman and Baker combined for another Sibley point.

The final point in game four came on a Tartan net violation (their 13th unforced error in the game) and Sibley claimed the game 25-13 to level the match at two games each.

The 15-point game five was tense. There were no Sibley players even close to being around the last time the Warriors had dared to even think about knocking off the Titans.

But now the Warriors had confidence. Even when Tartan jumped to a 4-1 lead, they were unfazed.

The Sibley defense again provided the opportunities and the score became tied at four.

It was knotted again at seven and then once more at 11.

At 9-11, the Warriors got the ball on a kill by Stein (the senior outside hitter had 13 total).

That sent Beaman to the line. The Titans knocked a ball long and the score was tied at 11.

Then, two sets by Beaman and another by Stein, along with hits by Stein and Ali Vandercook, pushed the Warriors to a 14-11 margin.

Now they knew.

Tartan got a point on a MeKenna Richards' kill, but the Sibley defense again rose to fight off the Titans and force them into a mis-hit for a Sibley point.

It happened. Sibley had come back from two down to win three straight games over Tartan, on the Titans home court, and to claim their first victory over Tartan since 1988.

Tartan head coach Dana Pederson summed up the Sibley comeback by stating, "We played the first two games without hardly any errors. Then, they tightened their defense and let us make some mistakes. They are a good defensive team. They are anything but a 'slouch' team. I think after the first two games, our kids thought it would be a cakewalk. But after those first two games, we made so many errors. That really hurt us. This is a very balanced league. There are no teams which you can take for granted. Sibley showed us they certainly aren't in that category."

The win pushed Sibley's record to 4-2, while the loss dropped Tartan to the same 4-2 mark.

Next, the Warriors will travel to South St. Paul Sept. 28 and return home to face Richfield Oct. 3.

The Titans will travel to face Richfield Sept. 28 and return to Titanville to face Simley Oct. 3.

CSC volleyball matches are 7 p.m. scheduled starts.

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