EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. — The Galena Pirates found a way to overcome a seven-point deficit in the third set to defeat host East Dubuque in a thriller Thursday night.
The Pirates (18-2, 9-1 NUIC) had Set 1 within reach with a 21-19 lead before senior middle hitter Sami Wasmund collided with a teammate diving for a ball and suffered a match-ending arm injury. The Warriors were able to pull ahead for the 25-23 win, before falling in the final two sets, 25-21 and 26-24.
“Sami is our floor leader,” Galena coach Dennis Wills said. “She is always the one constantly being positive on the court, and she is our superstar. I think we all went into a little bit of shock when she went down.”
The Pirates had trailed early in Set 1 before knotting the score at 8-8. The two teams battled back and forth before Galena took a 19-16 lead on a block from Kate Moran. However, the Warriors were able to tie the score back up at 21-21 on a Paige Middendorf kill and again at 23-23 on a missed serve by Galena before taking the 25-23 win.
“Our girls continue to play better and better, and I am completely happy with how hard they battled out there tonight,” East Dubuque coach Ashley Sites said. “This is the first time we’ve taken Galena to three sets and I’m so proud of them for that.”
In set two, the Pirates looked to freshmen Paeton Hyde and Taylor Hilby to help step in for the injured Wasmund.
“Our freshmen really played well in a big environment,” Wills said. “They did a tremendous job of filling in when we needed them.”
Hyde finished the match with three blocks, while Hilby added four kills.
Also taking charge was fellow senior McKenna Curran, who finished the match with eight kills behind Maggie Furlong’s 14.
“We all knew we had to step up for Sami, but me especially because I’m the only other senior who plays all the way around the rotation,” Curran said. “It’s really hard to lose a player like Sami, but we knew had the fire in us to get the job done.”
Galena led nearly all of Set 2 before holding off a late rally by the Warriors.
“We didn’t play our best game tonight, but these girls just kept fighting,” Wills said. “This was a regional environment, and to win a match like this speaks a lot about them and their will to win.”
The Warriors again took an early lead in Set 3, and eventually jumped out to a 13-6 lead. Following a time out, Galena got three straight kills from Furlong to pull back to within one at 15-14.
“We just kept falling behind by a few points, but we never gave up,” Curran said. “We all pushed as hard as we could, down to the very last point.”
The Pirates continued to rally back, but East Dubuque held on to a 21-18 lead before a big block from Hyde gave the Pirates the spark they needed. A kill from Curran put the Pirates up, 22-21, and they maintained the lead for the rest of the set to hold on for the 26-24 win.
Mackenzie Muehleip added six blocks for the Pirates, while Abby Soppe was in on 15 assists. Grace Wilhelm added 19 digs, while Curran added 18.