JOHNSONBURG – Teammates, family, friends and coaches gathered Thursday for a banquet to close out the Johnsonburg Ramettes' 2011 volleyball season.
"When we started the season, I really wasn't sure how we were going to end up," said Johnsonburg head girls varsity volleyball coach Bill Shuey said. "I didn't know what our record would be and after the Union tournament and a slow start, we did end up playing some volleyball later in the day and we actually took second to Elk County Catholic."
At the Union tournament, the Ramettes earned wins over Union, Redbank Valley, and a 1-0 win over St. Marys in a play-off; Johnsonburg also earned a 1-1 tie against Kane but lost twice to ECC, and once to North Clarion.
"That start was very promising and we left something on the table to get better, and the girls did get better," Shuey said. "I think the Bradford game at home was a game that gave us a big wakeup call that we just weren't ready yet."
Johnsonburg was swept 3-0 (25-12, 25-16, 25-17) at home Sept. 15 against visiting Bradford.
"But this group worked hard, every single game and in practice, just always working hard, and each girl pushed each other, and that was great to see," Shuey said.
Following the Sept. 15 loss against Bradford, the Ramettes went on to win seven of their next 10 matches, losing a close 3-2 match Sept. 20 at home against St. Marys, a close Oct. 11 home match 3-2 to Ridgway, and a 3-1 loss Oct. 18 at Bradford.
"We went into the ECC tournament late in the season and played some of our best volleyball, I thought, and many other people who saw us play thought that we were the team to beat," Shuey said. "We played West Branch in the finals and that was the first time all year that West Branch lost a set.
"I think we just kind of ran out of gas but they were definitely surprised by our team, and we played very well."
Johnsonburg earned wins over Port Allegany, Cameron County, Coudersport and Otto-Eldred in the ECC tournament. Their lone loss was a 2-1 defeat against West Branch for the tournament crown.
Following a 3-2 win Oct. 25 at home against Kane, the Ramettes lost in straight sets two days later at ECC.
"Going near the end of the season, I thought we got a little sluggish and we went over to ECC, and we didn't do too well," Shuey said. "I thought, 'OK, this is just another Bradford, maybe we'll start to get better,' and even though we lost to Port Allegany, I thought Port played very well and there was nothing to be ashamed of."
The Ramettes rolled past Cameron County in the first round of the playoffs Nov. 1 with a straight set win. Their subsequent match two days later against Port Allegany was the opposite.
"It could've gone either way, I think had we won the first game, I think it could've been a different outcome," Shuey said.
Port Allegany won 3-0 (26-24, 25-13, 25-20) to make it to the Final Four showdown for the district title.
"We didn't quit and we got down in the third game by a lot but we came back and made it a game, and that's a tribute to these girls who are very competitive and want to do the best that they can," Shuey said. "The biggest thing about this group is not just the fact that they had a good year, but they were close-- the girls on the bench were always cheering and it was just amazing.
"There was something there and we all saw it, but it doesn't always happen that way. It was a good thing and the girls enjoyed each other."
Senior Katie Galsick earned the hitting excellence award with 270 kills to lead the team. Senior Brianna Fabris earned an award for highest percentage of points on serves-- she had 173 points off her serve with 61 aces. Fabris had 437 serves for 89.9 percent.
Junior Chelsea Benson earned an award for highest number of points scored off serving, hitting and blocking. Benson got 166 points off her serve, had 58 blocks, and had 137 kills out of 519 attempts, good enough for 26.4 percent.
Senior Kiesha Dornish earned the All-Around Utility Award for 195 kills with a hitting percentage of 24 percent, tallied 59 aces and was second in total points.
An award for most assists was given to senior Sarah Bevacqua, the team's consistent setter. In addition to a team-leading 601 assists, Bevacqua tallied 33 aces, 122 points, 17 kills, and handled the ball an astounding 2,472 times during the 2011 season.
The All-Around Defensive Award was given to senior Kiana Myers. As the team's libero, she received 917 serves, served 52 aces, and had a serving percentage pf 87 percent.
An award for the highest serving percentage went to junior Brittany Watts, who finished the season with a serving percentage of 94 percent. Watts served the ball 285 times and had 46 aces with only 17 errors on the season. In addition, she accounted for 118 points off her serve, had 160 kills and 42 blocks.
"One thing that the parents need to know is that when we went out of town, the girls handled themselves very well," Shuey said. "We're looked at in a favorable way by all the schools and other coaching staffs, and their teams. That's a tribute to their upbringing and I commend the parents for that.
"I appreciate the opportunity to be with these girls for three months out of their high school career and this year was a real pleasure for me."
Shuey also bade farewell to his senior quintet.
"I wish the seniors good luck in the rest of their senior year and I know volleyball has meant a lot to them," Shuey said. "You can see that in their eyes in the last game and they know it means a lot to me too to be a part of it with them."