MaxPreps records don’t go back far enough to tell us the last time that Franklin’s volleyball team had lost a set to Greenwood, much less a match, before Tuesday evening.
The visiting Woodmen rendered a deeper search for such information irrelevant.
Greenwood squandered a two-set lead but bounced back in time to pull out a 25-17, 25-20, 18-25, 25-27, 15-13 triumph, ending what had been at least a decade-long run of Grizzly Cub sweeps.
Mya Ayro turned in a dominating performance for the second night in a row, putting down 34 kills and adding 17 digs to lead the Woodmen.
“For the past couple of years, it’s been very frustrating losing to Franklin,” Ayro said. “It was frustrating to lose the third and fourth sets, and it was tiring; I know I was tired and everyone was tired. But I am proud of us for finally pulling something off, and it’s a big thing.
“It’s not sectionals, it’s not county or conference, but it’s still a big deal.”
Greenwood (2-1, 1-0 Mid-State) asserted itself early in the first set, taking a 12-5 lead on Jenna Armstrong’s second kill. The Grizzly Cubs pushed back and tied it with an 8-1 run, and they were still within a point after a Scarlett Kimbrell kill made it 17-16, but the visitors scored the next six to take control and ended the set with an Ayro kill and an ace from Brooklyn Hanson.
In the second, a kill and a block from Brooklyn York put Franklin in front 20-19, but a back-row kill from Ayro created the 10th tie of the set and began a closing string of six straight Woodmen points. The junior hammered down her ninth kill of the set to wrap it up.
The Grizzly Cubs started the third by building a 9-5 advantage, their first lead of more than two points all night. Greenwood responded with five in a row to briefly pull ahead, 10-9, and drew even for the last time at 17-17 before Franklin regained command with a 7-0 burst on the serve of senior libero Chloe Hoy.
Undeterred, the Woodmen grabbed a quick 6-1 lead in the fourth behind three quick kills from Ayro and appeared to be in control with three match points at 24-21. Franklin, though, fought off all three, eventually seizing a 25-24 edge on back-to-back Kimbrell aces and forcing a decisive set with another ace by Jenna Hash.
The nerves showed on both sides at the start of the fifth; all but one of the first 14 points came on errors. Greenwood fell into an early 5-1 hole but chipped away, eventually taking an 8-7 lead on an Ella Stivers kill. Ayro then had three kills in a four-point stretch to again give the Woodmen three match points at 14-11.
A kill and a block from Kimbrell got Franklin turned the pressure back up at 14-13, but Ayro was able to slam the door shut with her final kill of the night.
That Greenwood finished off the match without junior setter Ella Dean (45 assists, 17 digs), who went out late in the fourth set with a dislocated elbow, made it that much more gratifying.
“We’ve been talking about changing the culture at Greenwood,” coach Natalie Kitchin said, “and I couldn’t be more proud of these girls. We have one setter. Greenwood is small; everyone knows that we don’t have a lot. We’re not stacked. We lost our one setter, didn’t have a backup, and still came back and fought for each other.”
Armstrong and Melia Gorrell led the Woodmen’s defensive effort with 21 digs apiece.
Franklin, meanwhile, came into the match with a very young roster, especially up front. Despite the setback, coach Jess Giles was happy with the growth she saw from her squad over the course of two and a half hours.
“I think that we came a long way in one evening,” she said. “The determination and willingness to get better is there, and I really think it’s just working through being a young player, playing to win rather than playing not to lose.”