Senior staff writer
When Greenwood Christian Academy met visiting Greenwood for a volleyball match Sept. 27, the event was far more than just a girls high school athletic event.
The historic first-round match for GCA in the Johnson County tourney stood out as another step to validate the private school’s success of its teams in just a short time. This is the first year that GCA is competing in all Johnson County meets and tournaments. The county’s athletic directors accepted the school for county tourneys at a February meeting.
And Class A CGA’s first county tourney contest resulted in a 3-0 triumph against 4A Greenwood (25-13, 25-18, 25-21).
“This speaks highly for our stability, competiveness and sportsmanship among county schools,” said athletics director Dan Carmichael. “I firmly believe the success that we have had in athletics has led us to this point.”
Carmichael was speaking about the Cougars’ success of eight sectional championships in four years: baseball, 2014, ’15, ’16; boys soccer, ’13, ’15; boys basketball, ’14; volleyball, ’16; and girls bowling, ’17.
“We have accomplished so much since the first time I approached the county athletic directors,” Carmichael said. “And now our athletes are so thrilled to compete in county contests with them. I’m excited beyond words for our coaches, student-athletes school and parents.”
Earlier this season, GCA competed for the first time in county girls golf and boys and girls cross-country championships. The Cougars plan on fielding a girls tennis team in the spring and boys squad next fall.
According to Carmichael, the first-round county tourney volleyball match was a milestone for GCA. “Our entire student body and our coaches in all sports were so excited for that night.”
The volleyball match came about by seeding of the top three teams – Center Grove, Franklin and GCA. The pairings were then done by blind draw.
Senior Aubrey Odgers, who had 17 digs and three aces against the Woodmen, admitted, “I was way more pumped for this than any game – it was great!”
“This was a big win, maybe the biggest,” said her twin, Lexi Odgers, who went over the 500-assist mark this season. “All the students and fans were into it.”
Carmichael added, “What was really fun is seeing a small school being very competitive against a 4A school. Greenwood played very well. We have had a good following all year, but this turnout was really exciting. We have been playing phenomenal. I’m happy for the entire county that we can participate.”
GCA coach Kayla Black’s squad relied upon seniors – the Odgers, middle hitter Sarah Mangan (five kills), who was out earlier with an injury, and outside hitters Sierra Gilson and Grace Peters (17 digs, 13 kills) and standout freshman Izzy Reed.
After trailing early (4-1), the Cougars dominated the first set and never trailed after scoring four straight points for a 5-4 lead. Tied at 9 in the second set, GCA used a 6-1 surge and pulled away from the Woodmen on Reed’s two kills and Aubrey Odgers’ ace. The string was broken up with a block by Greenwood’s Alyssa Stilley.
Greenwood closed to 21-20 in the final set, but three hitting errors by the Woodmen led to GCA’s sweep and on-court celebration. The Woodmen (9-19) have lost nine of their last 11 matches.
The Cougars (18-4) pushed 4A Franklin to five sets Thursday before losing the match on two aces in a semifinal match at Edinburgh. Center Grove (25-2) won the tourney by defeating Franklin 3-0.