A partisan crowd of about 500 spectators doesn’t sound like a lot, but in Greenwood Christian Academy’s gymnasium it is.

Motivated by the earsplitting surroundings, the Cougars’ volleyball team opened its season Monday night with a 25-13, 25-16, 28-26 victory against visiting Greenwood.

Senior Sierra Gilson led GCA with 13 kills, while classmate Grace Peters added nine. The Cougars dominated the opening two sets and then rallied from a three-point deficit late in the third.

Fittingly, it was Gilson’s long spike down the left sideline that sealed the ‘W’.

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“This was amazing because usually our games are really quiet,” Gilson said. “With everyone screaming it just lifts you up and makes you want to play even harder and give even more effort than you did before.

“Opening with a win is huge. We’ve got a great season ahead of us.”

The Cougars played minus the services of senior middle blocker Sarah Mangan (sprained ankle), who is due back Thursday. Greenwood Christian Academy plays this evening at Indianapolis Tindley.

Freshman Izzy Reed chipped in eight kills and a service ace for the Cougars with sophomore Jessica Miller adding three kills and an ace. Gilson and Lexi Odgers had two aces each.

Greenwood Christian coach Kayla Back was hoping her players would rise to the level of the enthusiasm inside the facility.

“When we pack the house, it’s huge. The sound goes all over the place,” she said. “We love it. That’s what we wanted to do is pack the gym. It’s a big deal to bring a local school in here, and I’m happy with the turnout.

“Our goal every time we step onto the floor is to win. We knew after that first set things would shake out a little bit. We knew Greenwood was going to come back with a vengeance, and they did. Hats off to them. They played a great third set.”

For Greenwood (0-2), junior Alyssa Stilley produced eight kills. Junior Gabi Oakes and sophomore Megan Johns wound up with five kills apiece.

“This is an interesting atmosphere to play in, so I’m proud of the kids for keeping their heads up,” Woodmen coach Amanda Ratliff said. “We kept fighting until the very, very end, so you can’t ask for much more.

“Maggie Smith is doing outstanding for us. She’s a senior, and is really fighting hard to be on the court. I’ve been impressed with her so far this season. Our setter, Maddy Limbach, is new for us. She’s jumped right in and is taking on a big role. I’m proud of her, too.”

Greenwood plays again Thursday night when it hosts Beech Grove.

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.