YORK TWP. — Buckeye’s youth stepped front and center Tuesday night, with a quartet of sophomores and a freshman powering the team to the brink of a sweep over Lutheran West.
In the end, however, experience proved difficult to overcome as the Longhorns rallied to beat Buckeye 23-25, 18-25, 30-28, 25-13, 15-7 in Patriot Athletic Conference action.
Buckeye (0-2, 0-1) was without senior All-Gazette hitter Molly Galaszewski after she injured an ankle in the final scrimmage of the preseason.
Then senior libero Clare Mewhinney collided with a teammate in the third set with Lutheran West up 23-22 and did not return to the lineup. Bucks coach Tom Schuler said Mewhinney had a headache and was held out for precautionary reasons.
Sophomore hitters Sydney Bell (11 kills), Kara Sexton (6 kills) and junior varsity call-up Lexie Anzevino (7 kills, 12 points) carried the offense for Buckeye, fed by sophomore setter Kamiah Gibson (5 kills, 4 blocks, 29 assists, 6 points, 3 aces).
“They showed a lot of energy, and that’s only the second varsity match for a lot of those sophomores, so I wanted to see how they’d react, how they’d fight, and they did not roll over,” Schuler said.
Buckeye had two chances to serve out the match, up 25-24 and 27-26 in the third, but the Longhorns (1-2, 1-2) had the answer each time.
In the final two sets, Lutheran West senior hitter Syndey LaPointe took over, notching eight of her 12 kills.
“Some things happened with injuries and we had people where they weren’t supposed to be, and that’s on me, but that happens with inexperience,” Schuler said.
Galaszewski went for X-rays after landing on an opponent’s foot at the net at the end of the final scrimmage. Schuler said doctors found what might be the remnants of an older injury, but with rest and rehabilitation, the senior could be back in a week or two.
“She wants to get in now, of course, but we’ll take our time,” Schuler said. “I don’t want to rush her back.”
In her place, Anzevino started on the outside and was a threat from the net and behind the service line. She led the Bucks in points and was second in kills in the match. Anzenvino pulled Schuler aside after the match to talk about areas of her game she can continue to work on and improve.
“I’m very excited for how she played,” he said. “She wants to step up and do more, and she’ll do everything that I ask her to do, and that’s great.”
Freshman middle hitter Autumn Meyer added six kills and three blocks while senior Nicole Figueroa had 11 points and two aces.