Mitchell digs deep, grinds out a win

Mustangs' seniors help the team escape with a five-set win over rival River Ridge.

Published September 7, 2006

TRINITY - Senior composure. That's what Mitchell coach Keith Paulk viewed key after Wednesday night's win over Sunshine Athletic Conference rival River Ridge. The Mustangs, who field seven seniors, used that experience to narrowly escape the Royal Knights 25-18, 28-26, 21-25, 24-26, 15-4.

"They only have one senior," Paulk said. "Our experience absolutely played a factor. That senior composure. And that's a word that was used in that huddle. (The fifth game) was composure time, and they showed that, and that clearly had something to do with the outcome."

From the start, it didn't look good for River Ridge. On the strength of senior Lea Weber's serving, the Mustangs (6-0) jumped to an early 19-10 lead. Weber reeled off 10 consecutive points to help give Mitchell the advantage, and ultimately, the game.

Game 2 was a little tighter. Despite again jumping out to a 19-10 lead, Mitchell allowed the Royal Knights to come back, as River Ridge clawed its way back on the strength of defense to tie the score at 24.

But following a sideout, Layne Spencer drove a ball off of Brooke Castelamare to give Mitchell the win. Spencer, who took over Game 5, finished with 16 kills and 30 digs.

A rejuvenated Royal Knights team claimed Game 3 before Castelamare took over Game 4. The junior had five service points in the game, including five consecutive aces, to pull River Ridge out of an early hole. The outside hitter, who finished with nine aces, 23 digs and 15 kills, desperately tried to lead her team to victory. But in the end, experience meant just as much as heart.

"We fought, and we didn't give up," River Ridge coach Heidi Castelamare said. "But we were too streaky. There were a lot of serve and receive mistakes. It just seems like they wanted it a little bit more than we did. Having one senior hurt a little bit, but this will be a learning experience."