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Trojans are champs!
Trojans are champs! Well, they are co-champs actually. North Crawford and DeSoto ended the season with identical 6-1 conference records and therefore share the championship for the 2011 Ridge and Valley Conference.

The North Crawford volleyball hosted their archrivals the Seneca Indians last Thursday night and wound up grabbing a piece of the conference championship with a solid victory in three sets.

“All the North Crawford volleyball players were mentally ready for the task of taking on the Seneca Indians,” Shelley Biggins, the Trojan coach, said. “A share of the conference title was on the line for whoever won this match. North Crawford's goal was to play the match well and be happy with the outcome.”

They sure looked happy when they hoisted their conference championship trophy at the end of the match.

Everybody from coach Shelly Biggin to Seneca coach Dawn Ray to the fans in the stands and maybe even the payers on the court seemed shocked that the big match ended in just three games.

For her part Ray was quick to credit the Trojans for a match well played.

“My hat’s off to Crawford they played a phenomenal game,” Ray said later. “I’d like to play them again.”

Oh, of course, she would. Ray just couldn’t explain what happened to her strong Indian team last Thursday in the North Crawford gym.

“It's to bad that the Seneca girls forgot to show up to play,” Ray said. “I was shocked as a coach, I never expected to go home with a three-game loss. The North Crawford girls they played very well. They were the better team on Thursday and they deserved the conference trophy.  We could not get going and when we did, we'd miss a serve or we'd get a pass and we couldn't get the set.”

Perhaps, the game turned on the teams’ respective setters. The Trojans had and experienced senior in Traci Lund while the Indians used a much less experienced sophomore in Cacey Ostrander.  

“Traci Lund did an impressive job for the NC girls, she put the ball right where the hitters needed it every time,” Ray noted.  “And, the setter is so important to playing volleyball.”

The Trojans got off to a great start winning the first set 25-15 with Traci Lund serving 13 serves in the set. Mackenzie Swiggum had four spike kills and Nicole Greene had three spike kills all set by Traci Lund. Hannah Pedersen had two big block kills in this first match along with great passing to set up the offense.

The second set saw North Crawford’s Nichelle Martin serving eight times. All five Trojan hitters scored a spike kill to balance out the offense, with the Trojans winning the second set 25-18.

The Trojans took the lead in game three, controlling the match to bring about a 25-23 set to win the match.

With the victory, North Crawford finished the season tied with DeSoto for the conference championship with a 6-1 record.  The last time the Trojans won the conference title was two years ago when there was a three-way tie between Weston, Seneca, and North Crawford.

"The North Crawford girls were really ready to play tonight.  They stayed focused and didn't let small mistakes get to them,” Biggin said. “We won this match with six girls on the court working as one unit. We would like to thank the fans for coming out and cheering the entire match for the team.”

The Trojans’ dream was the Indians’ nightmare.

“The game was like night and day from Tuesday with DeSoto and Thursday with North Crawford,” Ray said. “That was so not my team, who were they.”

Ray hopes the Indians can take the loss and turn it into a spark that ignites them in the post-season, much like they did following their loss to Kickapoo earlier in the season.

“Now we have to get ready to take on the tournament trail where everyone is 0-0,” Ray said. “We have to play every game like is your last game because it very well could be. The Seneca girls know that they can play tough volleyball and it's up to them how far they want to go.”

Coach Biggin knows her team must stay focused if they are to have any success in the post-season.

North Crawford Stats: Traci Lund- 24 assists, one ace and served 100 percent (19/19); Mackenzie Swiggum-11 spike kills, one block kill, one assist, one ace while serving 100 percent (17/17).

Nicole Greene-10 spike kills, one tip kill, two assists, one block kill, served 6/7; Nichelle Martin-100 percent serving (13/13), one ace, two spike kills, one tip kill, and one assist; Hollie Martin- served 100 percent (8/8), two block kills, and one spike kill.

Hannah Pedersen-two block kills, one spike kill, and served 1/2; Katie Eitsert had five perfect serve receives to the setter, while serving 3/4; Mysti Pratt played in the back row.

Aubrey Stevenson and Natasha Swiggum were on the bench ready for action if needed, while an injured Samantha Troxel took stats.

For Seneca there were some bright spots even in defeat. Kalli Boland came up with 12 kills, which was impressive considering she spent a lot of time in the back row. Heather Wall came up with four kills and Logan Lessard was there for three kills. 

The Indians had 19 bad serve receptions.

“We struggled to even pass the ball,” coach Ray said.

However, the post-season will give both teams a chance to show what they can do.