GARDNER – It was superhero night for the Gardner-South Wilmington student section Thursday night. Unfortunately for the Lady Panthers and their fans, it appeared visiting Beecher showed up with Kryptonite in the River Valley Conference matchup.
The Lady Cats went into Gardner and stole a 25-22, 20-25, 25-14 win from the locals.
“It was pretty even. We played well in Games 1 and 2 but everything we did right in one and two we couldn’t hold it together in three,” GSW coach Melissa Cardone said. “But as long as we play like we did in Games 1 and 2 the rest of the year, we’ll be in good shape.”
The match was close throughout the night as both teams played virtually even through the first two games.
In the first game, there were ties of 4, 14, 17 and 22 before Beecher won the game 25-22.
The Lady Panthers came back in the second game and mostly led throughout. Beecher called timeout at 9-6 and 22-18 in the second game, but GSW prevailed 25-20.
Cardone said it was tough to drop the first one after having things tied at 22-all.
“It was a little disappointing because they had worked so hard to tie it,” she said. “But this team is hungry and they went out there and got the win. Defense and serve-receive was the difference. We’ve played really great defense and our serve-receive was good in Games 1 and 2. In Game 3 we just couldn’t hang on.”
It’s been a long two weeks for the Panthers, and Cardone thinks that may have been the biggest difference Thursday.
“This is our 10th match in two weeks,” she said. “We’re tired … 10 matches in 12 days is tough.”
On the night, Emily Foley led GSW with 15 digs and 14 assists while Sophie Barna added 14 digs. Additionally, Maranda Residori had 16 digs and six assists, Lexi Posing nine digs, Bryanna DeMoraes five kills, Sam Schultz five kills and Breann Fisher eight kills.
Despite being 4-3 in the RVC to this point, Cardone remains optimistic.
“I think we can beat Beecher the next time we play them. We want to also get back losses to Grant Park and Illinois Lutheran,” she said. “I think we can win all five of our remaining [RVC] matches and probably the regional, too. That’s what we’re going for and I believe we can do it.”