Porter proud of her Lady Elkers despite defeat

Bob Parana - Staff Writer

Despite a 3-1 loss to the talented Lady Wolves Tuesday night the Ridgway volleyball team displayed a spirit and determination that is sure to help lift them the rest of the season.

The Lady Elkers who picked up their first win of the season at Austin (3-0) Monday responded by nearly forcing a fifth and deciding game with a gutsy, road performance. Down 24-23 with the match on the line Ridgway (1-3) responded to tie the fourth game three times down the strectch . With the score tied Kane’s Audri Marconi’s kill gave her team a 25-24 lead. Carli Thomas responded with a tip and serving ace to give the Lady Elkers a 26-25 lead. The Lady Wolves bounced back with two points to make it 27-26 before Payton Delhunty tied the match at 27 with a nice return. The match again was tied at 28, but Kane scored the next point and Emma Ely put things away with a serve.

The Lady Wolves took the first game 25-13. Ridgway won the second 25-18 and Kane the third 25-19 before claiming the fourth.

“This is a win in my eyes. I told every single one of them out there, don’t you ever hang your head about this. Our offense was on. Our defense was on and our serves were on. We were on and we made them work for that win. They should not hang their heads because it’s a win in my heart,” Lady Elkers head coach Kayleen Porter said.

The second game was a thing of beauty. Two straight serving aces by Jenna Pavlock tied the game 3-3. With the score tied at five Thomas served for nine straight points including two aces. Eve Cobaugh, Keyona Gardner, Delhunty, Jesse Gilmore, Lexi Cherry, Maddie Cherry, Chloe Frank, and Prescilla Ehrensberger were all on top of their game with Pavlock, Thomas, and Delhunty in the second frame. All played well throughout the match.

Ridgway trailed 16-8 in the third set but came back to pull within 19-17 but the Lady Wolves countered with six of the last eight points to go up 2-1.

Delhunty’s tip in the fourth after a serve by Lexi Cherry pulled the Lady Elkers within one. An out of bounds shot by Kane tied the game 8-8. The teams battled back and forth before the action described in the second paragraph kicked in.

The Lady Wolves entered the match with two wins after losing its opener at Elk County Catholic. Porter knew it was not an easy task going up against the hot team but couldn’t say enough about how her team played.

“I’m telling you what. Those girls went out there with their whole heart and soul. I told them to dig deep. We knew we were in for a tough competition and they never gave up the whole time. I am so proud of every single one of them,” she said.

The Kane gym was opened for a limited number of parents and the JV teams from both teams made enough noise to give the thriller a playoff feel.

“The excitement in this gym was incredible. It was the first time we had people in a gym since the whole COVID thing and our JV’s rocked it. It was so nice to actually be able to play volleyball and have a cheering section of more than just your coach on the sideline. I think we need that motivation every time,” said Porter whose support of the girls during a match is second to none.

The Lady Elkers will look for win number two when they host Elk County Catholic tonight. The team is beginning to gel well with a new system after a tough start last week which saw them lose 3-1 at home to Bradford on Tuesday and 3-1 at St. Marys Thursday.

Porter feels strides are definitely being made as her team adapts to a new system. “Last Tuesday it was deer in the headlights. We had a lot to work out and had jitters but you know what? We got our game now,” she said.

Above all, the players and coaches have bonded during these trying times of COVID. It was on full display at Tuesday’s match.

“We are a family. Every one of us sticks by each other and you can tell. The whole team out there didn’t give up on each other. That’s the key. They don’t give up on each other. We were down in every game and we rallied to make this a great match. There’s something to be said about that. This group is close and we are getting better because of it,” said Porter.