IRONWOOD — There is an old saying that goes “nothing worthwhile in life comes easy.”
The Ironwood girl’s volleyball team found out how true this can be as it took five nail-biting sets for the Red Devils to turn back an intense, determined Bessemer team 21-25, 29-27, 25-22, 22-25 and 15-11 at the John Krznarich Gym on Thursday night.
It was Ironwood’s seventh straight win to start the season and they are also 2-0 in the Indianhead Conference.
“This was the most intense game we’ve played,” Red Devil coach Lisa Graham said. “The girls had their game faces on when they stepped on the court and we knew it would be a battle. This always seems to happen with Bessemer. We really had to fight hard and this was our best all-around game.
“I’ve coached for four-years and this was the biggest volleyball crowd we’ve had. And they were really loud.”
Bessemer coach Shelly Mettler said the match could have easily gone either way.
“It was a barn-burner right to the end,” Mettler said. “We played our hearts out and left it all out on the court. We played a very solid game. They hit the ball very hard both ways. It really came down to defense and who could get to the ball. I’m not disappointed in our play and I wish we had more games like this.”
Players from both teams seem to leave the court emotionally drained.
Ironwood lost the first set, won the second and third and lost in the fourth set. The sets were all close. But it would come down to the final, 15-point set.
The Speedgirls served first and senior Claire Tourville got Bessemer off to a 4-2 lead. Mariah Beaudette was playing her best game of the year and her block and two kills down the middle put Ironwood up 8-5.
Beaudette had a terrific game and smashed 29 kills in the game.
“She was on fire,” Graham said. “She had the hot hand and the setters kept feeding her. That’s the best I’ve seen her play. Katie (Erickson) got her the ball whenever she needed it. We were trying to move the ball around, so Brenna Bogaczyk wouldn’t block it. She was in our face a lot. But Katie played very well and has 42 assists.”
The Red Devils increased their lead to 10-7 and then Bessemer’s Sarah Trudgeon stepped up to serve. Trudgeon plays athletics hard and she was the perfect person to have in that spot. She served two points for the Speedgirls, including one of her three aces.
With the Red Devil lead whittled to 10-9, Ironwood’s Jessica Gering’s tip just caught the back line and made it 11-9.
Bessemer’s Claire Tourville used one of her six kills to narrow the lead to 11-10. Now serving, this was Bessemer’s chance to seize the lead and pull out the tense match. But the serve went long and Ironwood took control with a two-point lead. Beaudette followed with another kill upping the lead to 13-10.
After a long rally, the Speedgirls hit a shot into the net and a kill shot went wide, giving Ironwood the set and match.
After the match, Beaudette was very happy and very tired.
“We played amazing,” she said. “I’m so proud of how we did. We had to work very hard and Bessemer was our hardest opponent.”
For Ironwood, Emily DiGiorgio had 12 kills and the team served 15 aces.
Bogaczyk had two blocks to go with her 13 kills and Trudgeon dished out eight assists and one kill to go with her three aces. Tourville added eight assists and an ace to go along with her six kills. Julie Ahnen and Mikhayla Sampson each had three kills.
Bessemer travels to Ontonagon for a non-conference game on Monday. Game times are 4:45 and 6:15 CDT.
Ironwood is on the road to Butternut on Thursday for a 7:15 p.m. varsity game only.