Katie Fricke thought the time was right for a little tension-breaker during Gar-Field's four-game victory over Osbourn Park on Thursday.
During a team huddle after the third game, with the Indians ahead two games to one, the Gar-Field senior tackled Coach Sue Shelton, bringing her somewhat gently to the ground--to the amusement of the team.
After a good laugh, the Indians returned to the court and posted a good win--15-11, 6-15, 15-7, 15-13 over the defending district champion Yellow Jackets--to remain unbeaten in the Cardinal District.
Shelton "said my knee pads stunk and so she had to move away from me," Fricke said of the exchange in the huddle. "I thought that was rude, so I took her down."
Shelton added: "Katie's a real strong girl. She's the team relaxer, and she is constantly tackling me. . . . And she is strong enough that she can get away with it."
The combination of talented play from a number of players and a carefree team attitude has put the Indians (9-2, 5-0) in first place in the Cardinal District.
The mix of skill and fun was in full display at Gar-Field on Thursday. Senior outside hitter Katie Ratchford and junior middle hitter Julia Jackson led the way for Gar-Field offensively, tallying 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Fricke, who is starting this year for the first time, added six kills, and senior setter Stacey Siefke notched 30 assists.
The victory was Gar-Field's second against a quality Cardinal District team in a little more than a week. On Sept. 21, Gar-Field defeated Woodbridge in four games.
Gar-Field lost twice to Osbourn Park last season and fell to Woodbridge in the district tournament. Although the Yellow Jackets returned the bulk of last year's roster--including three first-team all-Cardinal District members--the Indians felt confident victory was possible.
"I thought we were going to be 2-0 [against Woodbridge and Osbourn Park]," Jackson said. "I think our team is good, and now we've got the momentum so we've got to keep going."
Gar-Field's start is a surprise to the Yellow Jackets, but not a reason to panic, Coach Dan Jones said. Tuesday's loss to Woodbridge was a disappointment because the team's effort was not there, Jones said. But he saw improvement against Gar-Field, a team Jones said is very talented.
The Yellow Jackets (4-2, 2-2) got strong performances from their top three players against Gar-Field. Senior outside hitters Chris Batson and Megan Wilson tallied 10 and 15 kills, respectively, and senior setter Heather Capelli added 25 sets. But Osbourn Park had a number of service errors and went through a stretch in which it seemingly was unable to handle Gar-Field's serves.
"I was pretty confident with who we had coming this season, and I had no reason to be on pins and needles about my team," Jones said. "But Gar-Field has a good team, they have people who can finish. . . . I think we'll be all right."
On Tuesday, Woodbridge (6-2, 3-1) defeated Osbourn Park, 15-11, 6-15, 16-14, 10-15, 19-17. The Vikings had rallied from a 14-1, fourth-game deficit before losing, a comeback that Woodbridge Coach Tiann Keesling said gave the team confidence to pull out the dramatic final game.
"At that point, when we lost that [fourth] game but got the next nine points, I knew then that we should win the match," Keesling said.
Thursday, Gar-Field rallied from a 9-5, first-game deficit and won the game when Jackson spiked the winning shot. In the second game, sophomore middle hitter Melissa Burlovich had four kills to pace the Yellow Jackets' win.
In the third game, Osbourn Park's Wilson and Gar-Field's Jackson went back and forth with big spikes. Wilson tallied eight and Jackson five, but Gar-Field outscored the Yellow Jackets, 9-2, to close the game and go ahead two games to one. In the final game, Osbourn Park rallied from a 14-9 deficit to narrow the lead to one point before Jackson spiked home the match-winning kill.