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Lady Trojans overcome emotions, Broncos

CRYSTAL FALLS — Any Senior Recognition Night is going to provoke strong emotions, not only from the seniors themselves but down through their parents, their underclassmen teammates, and the crowd in general.    
    The Forest Park volleyball team held its senior recognition on Oct. 31, just prior to engaging in a four-set battle with Bark River-Harris at Eddie Chambers Gymnasium.
    The evening was sentimental enough even before the two teams squared off. But throw in the fact that all four of the Forest Park seniors play major roles on this year’s team and the rather untidy nature of their match itself and the night was a draining, but ultimately joyous occasion for the Lady Trojans.
    “It’s kind of emotional for them because they want to win at their home court for the last time,” FP coach Ana Valesano said after her team persevered for a 23-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-23 win over the Broncos. “They’re down and they put everything out there and they want to win, and you just have to have that will and determination to win at the end.”
    Those traits were vital on a night in which the Lady Trojans (10-5 in dual matches) were off their game during the first set. Forest Park played a rather passive opening set and seemed unsure of itself at times.
    Though the set, and the whole match for that matter, remained tight, the Lady Trojans seemed out of sorts to begin the match.
    Seniors Kelsey Ragio and Caitlyn Bloomburg agreed why the regular-season finale was more chaotic.
    “I think we started off kind of slow because everyone was still in a sad mood from the whole Senior Night thing,” Bloomburg said.
    “I feel like it definitely did (affect us),” Ragio added. “It’s our last time on this court and it was rough at first, but we played our hearts out to make it the best.”
    The Lady Trojans will not host a tournament game this year. Forest Park will open district play on Wednesday on the road at Carney-Nadeau or North Central. The district final location is yet to be determined, but because of the draw, Forest Park would travel in any case.
    Despite all this and more swirling through their minds, the Lady Trojans improved their play after falling behind. Senior Sydney Honkala recorded two tips in a row and classmate Mercedes Simmons added two kills to lift FP to an early 8-3 lead in the second set.
    The Lady Trojans kept some distance between themselves and the Broncos, building a 22-15 lead. BR-H committed a couple of errors in the final moments as FP evened the match.
    “We really started going for it, especially once we lost that first game,” Bloomburg said.

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