HOBART | Kristi Hoese wore black pants and a black shirt with “Property of Griffith Volleyball” in white letters on the front above a smaller label that said “Worn with Pride.”
The last time Griffith and Hobart met in this gym with these nets, Hoese’s team won. Hoese’s team the last four years was Hobart.
Thursday’s matchup, Hoese's first against her former players, made her nervous, but the Panthers rallied to win an intense four-set match 25-15, 22-25, 26-24, 25-22.
“My girls were more intense knowing I coached here,” Hoese said. “They knew what they had to do here. They knew where they had to be, where to hit.
“I felt a lot of intensity just from the fact that I was here for four years and had so many of these players.”
The Panthers won their first Northwest Crossroads Conference match after falling behind late in the second game and losing, trailing late in the third and winning and trailing big in the fourth before clinching the win.
Senior hitter Lisette Roldan led the Panthers with 16 attack kills, 16 digs and two block kills.
“This shows they can finish, they can come back and they know how to fight,” Hoese said. “(Roldan) was hot all game. She knew what she had to do today, and her swing was unbelievable.”
Freshman sister Talia Roldan had 18 assists, two block kills and two aces.
“We really did a good job getting intense,” Lisette Roldan said. “We lost to Andrean and Munster in the last week and wanted to win this to get back in the conference race.”
Hobart held on to win the second game and had some miscommunication errors in a dramatic third that was tied at 22, 23 and 24.
In the fourth set, however, Hobart showed resolve from the biting third-set loss and stormed to a 14-8 lead while Griffith staggered.
Lisette Roldan answered with cannon shot after cannon shot, registering five kills in a run that knotted things at 18, then 19.
“I told myself I needed to pick it up, and we had to finish strong, finish like we wanted to,” she said. “I had to tell my teammates (that) they can’t think about (mistakes). I don’t want them to do that. You’ve got to shake it off, forget it and move on.”
Hanna Miller, who had seven kills and 16 digs, put down the final kill of the match for the Panthers.
What Hobart (5-7, 0-3) lacked in height they made up for in heart. The Brickies saved several shots that were within 6 inches of hitting the floor, only to rally for points on the ensuing volleys.
Caylie Pruitt had 15 kills and 15 digs for the Brickies, who were close in both of the middle games before falling in the clutch.
“Our inexperience, it showed through during those tight points,” said Hobart coach Justine Verbich, who was an assistant under Hoese several years ago at Hobart but not in recent seasons due to commitments with other sports.