GREENCASTLE >> The Greencastle-James Buchanan rivalry is intense no matter how you look at it.
But if you add in Senior Night, the final game of the regular season and two teams vying for the final spot in their district playoff tournaments, you get a fierce battle to the end.
And it was a battle.
Greencastle swept James Buchanan, 3-0, on Thursday, but the Rockets didn't go down without a fight. They forced Greencastle into tight second- and third-set action.
James Buchanan (9-8, 7-7 MPC) began the third set down by four, but went on its first run of the match to earn seven consecutive points.
After dropping the first set 25-9, James Buchanan began to rebound in the second, forcing Greencastle (12-8, 10-4 MPC) to stay on the court by going on a four-point run at the end of Game 2 to prevent the Blue Devils from winning a set point.
"That was the huge thing in (the third set). We allowed them to get way too many points at the end of the second set," Greencastle coach Corry Eagler said. "I knew going into the third set that (James Buchanan) was going to have the momentum."
Trailing James Buchanan by one late in the third frame, Greencastle earned some stamina thanks to a monster kill by Keri Gearhart, who ended the night with 12 kills. Gearhart's kill tied the match at 21, and the Blue Devils worked from there. After JB went ahead one last time, a four-point streak locked in the set 25-22 for Greencastle for the final time on its home court.
"Honestly this win means everything to me," Greencastle senior Sydney Shepherd said. "Sometimes (seeing other teams gain momentum) can get us down and we were able to feed off their energy and know that it was time to pick it up and finish."
Shepherd ended her final game at Greencastle with 10 kills and nine digs.
Both Greencastle and James Buchanan were on the cusp of post-season appearances, making Thursday's match all that more important. As of Thursday afternoon, the Rockets sat in 15th in Class AA, with the top-14 making it to playoffs, and Greencastle was ranked 21st in Class AAA, with the top-20 making it to the post season.
"We haven't been to districts in a few years and they were excited to even have a shot to make it into the tournament," James Buchanan coach Tonya Miller said. "That was in the back of their minds, but we really just wanted to beat Greencastle."
Erica Eberly had four kills for the Rockets, while Kayla Cummings had four assists, nine digs and two aces.
"It's nice because the last time we played JB we played one of our worst matches ever so they wanted to go out there and prove that's not how we play," Eagler said. "I think they just wanted finish on a high note because we can't control what is going to happen (in districts), so let's just go out on a high note and be happy with how we finish."
Greencastle 3, James Buchanan 0
Sets — 25-9, 25-16, 25-22
Kills — Keri Gearhart 12, Elizabeth Dagliano 10, Sydney Shepherd 10; Blocks — Gearhart 1, Chloe McKenzie 1; Assists — McKenzie 33; Digs — Diagliano 13, Shepherd 9, Gabby Baughman 9; Aces — Gearhart 3, Gaughman 2.
James Buchanan Statistics
Kills — Erica Eberly 4, Tyana Quivers 3; Assists — Kayla Cummings 4; Digs — Cummings 9; Aces — Cummings 2.
JV score — James Buchanan 2, Greencastle 1 (17-25, 25-16, 15-12).