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Trio of seniors help holds EGHS together

Posted Tuesday, October 26, 2010, at 8:14 PM

Trio of seniors help holds EGHS together

LITTLE CINCINNATI --Last season, Eastern Greene won its first volleyball sectional championship in 15 seasons without a senior on the roster.

This season, the senior trio of Rikki McCann, Whitney Richardson and Sam Reed again were an integral part of a second consecutive Class 2A title.

"They are solid kids that work very, very hard," said Eastern Greene coach Gina Ingram. I couldn't ask for three more fun kids that are goofy. You can look at them right now.

"Sometimes you would say they are glue that holds this group together. I think they have had a lot of fun the last couple of years. They have just been very instrumental in a lot of things that we do."

Reed, a front row specialist who plays a right side hitter, said she was thrilled to win a second consecutive sectional championship, especially sharing it again with her classmates.

"I am excited that we got it again, back to back," Reed said. "I am so proud of all the girls.

"I am glad that we got it senior year for me, Whitney and Rikki."

McCann, who serves as the setter in a 5-1 offense, said the seniors were just part of a family.

"We were asked what the identity of our team was and our answer was that we are all a family, all together," said McCann. "Everybody on our team is really close to each other.

"That really helps us. We know what the other is thinking."

Whitney Richardson, who is listed on the roster as an outside hitter but plays all around, said she was just really happy the team came together again.

"We had some troubles, but we always brought it together and it ended up awesome in the end," Richardson said after the Lady Thunderbirds defeated Linton-Stockton and South Knox here on their home court Saturday. "I am so excited we won it my senior year.

"We worked really well as a team and worked hard the whole season."

Last year, then freshmen Scottie Ingram, Casie Divine, Leanna Bailey, Chelsey Bailey stepped into roles on the varsity, joining the trio of seniors plus now juniors Brittany Igel and Kierstin Southern.

Coach Ingram, who's fifth-ranked Lady Thunderbirds have posted a 34-1 record entering the regional and 64-6 over the past two seasons, said it was a smooth transition.

"They have bought into things over the course of time," said Ingram. "We have made changes.

"They have just been really hard workers since they were freshman. When I ask them to do it, they just say, OK we will do it."

Eastern Greene had records of 9-24 in 2007 and 8-20 in 2008.

"I think the program has improved immensely," said Reed. "The girls that have came in during our upperclassmen years has helped us out immensely.

"We work really well together. We are like a family, because we spend so much time together."

McCann agreed.

"I really did not expect us to go any where freshman year, to be honest," she said. "We were struggling until last year a lot.

"I was really glad to see our program doing so well now finally."

The seniors all had different reactions when comparing the two championships.

"Oh wow. I think it is just as good as last year," said Reed. "We were really pushing for it this year. We were hoping to get it since we got it last year.

"There have been a lot of people in the community saying that we got this. You guys are going to win it. You guys can win it. You guys got it in the bag. But we still worked as hard as we did last year and improved and coaches never gave up on us and we never gave up on them."

After winning 32 of 33 matches during the regular season and repeating as Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference champs, McCann said it was not a surprise this time.

"Last year was more of a shock to us just because it was the first time we had won sectional in over a decade," she said. "This year kind of expecting it."

Richardson, who said it was sad to play the last time on their home court but it would have been worse if they had lost, said she's seen growth in the 2010 Lady T-Birds.

"Last year, it was really exciting because it was the first year that we all played together," she said. "This year I feel like our team is more developed.

"We work really well together. We know what the other person is going to do before they do it. But I think it was just as exciting as last year."

Richardson added there was not a big difference in the two title teams.

"Last year, we had some games where we did not play together at the beginning of the season," she said. "And we had to get used to each other.

"This year I felt like we worked really hard and we always pulled it out in the end and it shows in our record."

Ingram said they were both very special teams, no matter the outcome of tonight's regional title match at Covenant Christian.

"Last year, it was a long time coming for this whole program and whole school," said coach Ingram. "It is hard to compare sectionals period.

"It is great to have the title. It is great to repeat. These kids have worked hard since June 2009. This whole group has worked hard since then to get where they are. We talked about that all week and all season long. For us, this tourney started in June 2009 to get where we are, to make some changes, get stronger and get better. That's where we want to be and keep going and not have our season end in bitter disappointment."

B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at hargisbj@gmail.com or at (812 847-4487,ext. 12.

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