LAGRANGE — It was Senior Night at Keystone High School, but Buckeye’s sophomores almost stole the show.
The 10th-grade trio of Katie Galaszewski, Becky D’Amico and Stacie Mercurio took turns carrying the Bucks, but in the end, the Wildcats seniors were able to take control in a 21-25, 25-11, 16-25, 25-21, 16-14 victory.
In the first set, the Wildcats (16-6, 13-3) looked out of sorts. They had problems passing, setting and serving.
Meanwhile, Galaszewski had five kills for Buckeye (10-10, 10-6).
“When we play with confidence we’re hard to beat,” Wildcats coach Bud Trego said. “When we start making errors and serving poorly, like we did in the first game, we struggle. I think we had seven hitting errors and four service errors in that first game. You can’t give a team 11 points and expect to win.”
Junior setter Brooke Trego took matters into her own hands in the second set, opening with a 13-0 service run to bury the Bucks.
Then, in the third set, D’Amico and Galaszewski took control again, combining for 11 kills to help Buckeye take a 2-1 lead.
The Wildcats led wire-to-wire in the fourth game to set up the deciding fifth.
Keystone jumped out to what seemed to be a commanding 12-6 lead, but Mercurio had four quick kills to bring the Bucks back.
Buckeye caught the Wildcats at 13, and also at 14, before consecutive kills by Jenna Quillen and Emily Peters ended the match.
Between the fourth and fifth sets, Keystone senior middle hitter Darcy Irish rallied the troops.
“I just talked about how we had to focus, that energy was the key,” Irish said. “When we work together we’re unstoppable, but when we get down on ourselves we struggle to pick it back up. There was a lot of talk about staying positive and staying focused. We had to believe in ourselves.”
Irish led the Wildcats — who clinched the Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division title earlier this week — with 13 kills.
Quillen added 11 kills, Peters had 11 and Liz Hayes had 10, while Trego added 47 assists and 29 points.
“We’re hot and cold and I tell Brooke to feed who’s hot because we have four pretty strong hitters, but it seems like they’re never on on the same night,” Coach Trego said. “If they ever do get on on the same night, we’re going to be pretty strong.”
Galaszewski led Buckeye with 18 kills while adding 13 digs and 16 assists.
“She does everything for me,” Bucks coach Brittany Morris said. “She digs, she sets and she swings. She holds the team together out there, and for a sophomore that says a lot.”
Emily Vozar added 31 digs and D’Amico 11 kills and three solo blocks for Buckeye. The Bucks will play Fairview in the first round of the playoffs Tuesday.
Keystone, which will play at Brookside on Monday in the postseason opener, was led in digs by Morgan Myers with 57.
“I wanted to leave everything on the court,” Myers said. “We’ve been playing together since we were little, and I wanted everything to go perfect for all of us. That was the perfect ending to Senior Night.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7139 or firstname.lastname@example.org.