Ganado sweeps Louise as former Lady Hornets coach returns
Ganado head coach Bryan Branch takes a timeout to talk with his players during Tuesday's game against Louise High School. The game was Branch's first time coaching against the Lady Hornets after leading Louise to a state championship in 2009 and transferring to Ganado this year.
Photo by Angeli Wright.
Louise's Hannah Blumrick, right, spikes the ball against a block from Ganado's Lauren Hlavaty, left, and Ashley Bridges during the third game of Tuesday's match at Louise High School. Ganado defeated Louise in three games.
Ganado's Ashley Bridges celebrates a point after Louise's Hannah Blumrick dove for the ball but missed during the third game of Tuesday's match at Louise High School. Ganado defeated Louise in three games.
Ganado's Lauren Hlavaty kills the ball against Louise on Tuesday.
LOUISE - It was certainly a lot louder than previous encounters.
These are the things that happen when a new wrinkle is added to a rivalry like the one between Louise and Ganado.
Louise has the recent volleyball history that Ganado seeks.
Under Bryan Branch the Hornets advanced to at least the regional quarterfinals for each of the past five years, a run that culminated in the 2009 Class 1A state championship.
But, Branch is now the head coach at Ganado.
The fervent crowd at Louise High Tuesday night left disappointed when the Maidens won 25-15, 25-15, 25-20 in a District 26-1A contest.
"I don't know the coaches have come in. Lauren (Hlavaty) is a big asset to the team. She got us really fired up," said Ganado sophomore outside hitter Taylor Mirelez, adding the Maidens were more concerned with ending a losing spell against Louise, than other implications.
As much as some may have wanted to make the match about Branch returning, the coach deflected the praise to his girls.
Branch liked their passing, their fundamentals and, above all, the Maidens composure in the third game. He said he would like to see more consistency from his team, but believes that will come as they gain confidence throughout the season.
Louise took an 11-3 lead at one point in the third game behind the serving of Hannah Foster. A Lady Hornet attack went long and from there the Maidens slowly ate into the deficit.
With the match tied 15-all in the third Louise head coach Danielle Lymas asked her team for one pass. But, it wasn't to be. Ganado had regained the momentum.
Moments later it was Hlavaty, a Louise transfer, who ended the match with a crosscourt kill from the right-side.
"There was not one person, everyone played their role and stepped up," Hlavaty said. "We needed them to."
Ganado improved to 10-5 on season, but more importantly won its first district game of the season. Weimar beat the Maidens in three games Friday night, but Ganado was more consistent Tuesday.
Considering the story lines, players and coaches on both sides said the game was more of a mental challenge.
"It's just another volleyball game, but I was on the visitor's side this time," Hlavaty said.
Though playing against Louise game to mind a couple times, she said she was more focused on helping her new team win, than the potential nostalgia of Tuesday night.
"It wasn't hard. Like I said, it was more of a mental game than anything," said Lymas, who previously coached at Calvert during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. "I told them 'You're going to have to play against them' it's all on them. They have to give me 120 percent and leave it on the court."
Lymas said Louise (4-3, 1-1) will work on its coverage defensively and getting serves up, two areas that can be fixable.
Hannah Blumrick and Katelyn Roades were the only two returning starters for a Lady Hornets program that finished 23-16 last year. As the rest of the team adjusts to varsity volleyball, Lymas believes they will be able to compete for one of the three playoff spots in the district.
Though Mirelez hit a couple kills through the block, neither team figures to rely on their offense, and their power, to win games. It's all about fundamental volleyball, and scrappy, sprawling defense.
It's a formula Ganado used Tuesday night, and one Louise has continued, but with a few tweaks.