YORK TWP. — After spending four full weeks practicing, Buckeye’s volleyball team was eager to play its season opener Tuesday.
It showed as the Bucks pushed one of the top squads in the Patriot Athletic Conference from start to finish.
Junior outside hitter Molly Galaszewski fired 12 kills and senior middle hitter Koral Gibson had eight kills and a match-high four blocks for Buckeye, which dropped a 32-30, 25-23, 25-21 home decision to Fairview.
Senior outside hitter Shannon Galdun added seven kills, while freshman setter Kamiah Gibson collected 26 assists, two kills and three aces in the Bucks’ debut under veteran coach Tom Schuler.
“I wish we could have won, but Fairview is a really good, well balanced team — and all three games were pretty close,” Schuler said. “There were a lot more positives than negatives, for sure, and what I liked the best was our hustle and the way the girls didn’t back down.”
Buckeye displayed impressive chemistry, considering that four of its 10 players were appearing in their initial varsity contest. Senior co-captain Katie Lyons also was remarkably crisp in her first action at libero since suffering a high right ankle sprain three weeks ago.
The only downside occurred behind the end line, where the Bucks blew 14 serves, many of them at critical times.
“We were very energetic and we didn’t get down, no matter what happened, but we shouldn’t be missing serves like that,” co-captain Galaszewski said. “That’s something all of us will be working on in practice to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“Everything else was pretty good, though, and the crowd was so loud it was hard to hear some plays being called. We will have a very good season if all of our home games are like this.”
Another positive was the poise shown by Kamiah Gibson in her prep lid-lifter. The athletic 6-footer utilized all of her offensive weapons while playing fine defense and behaving nothing like a ninth-grader.
“I don’t really get nervous about playing volleyball, so I actually was comfortable from the beginning,” she said. “We’ve improved a lot since our first scrimmage. Now that the season has started, I think things will come together quickly for us as a team.”
Buckeye fought off four game points in the opener, two of them on kills by Galaszewski, before senior outside hitter Hannah Minnich gave the Warriors (3-1, 1-0) the lead for good with a sideline rocket.
It was the third-highest scoring game in school history and featured 19 ties. The Bucks’ downfall was blowing four serves after knotting the score at 22-22.
Buckeye jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the second thanks to a pair of aces and three assists from Kamiah Gibson, but faltered after missing six serves, the last of which put Fairview on top 21-20.
Warriors sophomore outside hitter Abby Kuyper had five of her match-best 14 kills in the middle game, while Minnich had three of her 13 kills. Junior setter Emma Szoradi led all players with 33 assists.
Junior defensive specialist Lexi Kondrich had two aces to open the third, giving the Bucks a 5-1 advantage. It turned into a see-saw affair with seven ties before Kuyper ended the match — and a 5-0 Fairview run — with her fourth ace.
“I was really happy our defense, especially Katie being able to step in and play so well after being out for a while,” Schuler said. “Serves, we have to work on, but I didn’t see anything that we can’t correct pretty easily.”