Win or lose, rivals measure progress

Dave Weatherwax/The Herald
Forest Park’s Adria Giesler set the ball to teammate Lydia Lange while Southridge’s Haley Langebrake, right, and Sydney Altmeyer moved in on defense during Monday’s battle of county rivals at Huntingburg. Southridge led 23-21 in the opening set, but Forest Park rallied in the first game and pulled away to a 26-24, 25-16, 25-22 victory. For a gallery of more photos, click here.

Herald Sports Editor

HUNTINGBURG — In a way, the stretch where Forest Park floundered the most Monday evening may have been the most valuable for the Rangers going forward. And for Southridge, this straight-set loss didn’t perpetuate doom and gloom.

The discourse after Forest Park’s first triumph over its county and Pocket Athletic Conference rival since 2008 deviated from the typical mold. Leading by nine points in the final set and later gripping just a two-point edge, Forest Park staggered to the finish without many style points. It was character-building, though, the Rangers figured. The same applied for Southridge, which discovered the sort of effort worthy of bottling even as the Raiders surrendered 26-24, 25-16, 25-22.

Forest Park needed a burst of five of the last six points to swipe the opening set and struggled to counteract the third-set staying power of a rival stuck on one win. Both times, the Rangers were left to problem-solve all on their own. Ranger coach Jamie Giesler didn’t call a timeout all night, and the message to her team was clear: Fend for yourself and figure things out.


“The girls have got to learn to be able to get through and get out of situations,” Giesler said. “It’s one of the things we’ve stressed: being able to break a serve, being able to finish a point out. They’ve got to learn. They’re going to be a stronger team and a better team. They’ve got to learn out there, ”˜What do I have to do? I’ve got to dig in and take this to the next level.’”

The fact that Southridge (1-14, 0-3) necessitated such a response was no shock to Giesler, who said “they always seem to play 10 times better than what they do if we go watch them play somebody else.” Maddie Lubbehusen flagged down 28 digs to steer a hustling Raider defense, and in the match’s key moments, both teams welcomed the effects of their recent lineup changes.

To free up Taylor Uppencamp for more blocking at the net, the Raiders promoted outside hitter Kayla Voegerl from the JV squad. In the first set, the Raiders punched ahead 22-19 on Voegerl’s back-to-back aces, and a few points later, Voegerl’s rip off the hands of a Ranger defender knotted things at 24 before the Rangers swiped the final two points.


Forest Park (7-10, 3-1) breezed through the second set and, up 20-11 in the last set, was positioned for a routine finish. The Raiders introduced some stress.

“That was probably the best we’ve played all year,” Raider coach Sarah Rogers said. “I know we lost, but the girls competed. They showed a lot of heart, showed a lot of fight.”

They also contended with a lot of Lydia Lange. The Ranger junior pounded 15 kills, and Giesler liked the way that her setter and daughter Adria Giesler (24 assists, 21 digs) was able to distribute swings to the rest of a lineup that was recalibrated to conserve Lange as “we were running Lydia to death,” Jamie Giesler said.

The Rangers recently shifted Chloe Dilger from an all-around position to the libero, while Anna Hagedorn flipped from hitting on the right side to the left. That better pairs the emerging Hagedorn with Lange, Jamie Giesler said. And it paid on match point, when Hagedorn hopped off the bench and rolled a shot toward the middle of the floor. Southridge retrieved it, but right to Devin Schaefer, who tapped down the last of her seven kills.

“It’s definitely nerve-racking sitting on the bench and wanting to go play and help the team, but we have to fight through it,” said Hagedorn, who also added 15 digs and three aces. “I think we did a good job of that. (We) had to shake off our panic.”

The Rangers also had to brush aside fatigue after playing four matches in Saturday’s Jeffersonville Invitational. The Rangers went 1-3, and Jamie Giesler said they easily could have finished 3-1. Monday’s quick return wasn’t flawless, she said, but one redeeming quality resonated.

“This was a good win for them tonight. I could tell they’re tired,” Giesler said. “The good thing about it, even though they’re tired, they still played and pushed through in the game situations. That’s a big plus.”

For Southridge, the thrust is continuing to roll with adjustments, to both personnel and expectations. Voegerl compiled four kills in her first varsity start Monday, and she matched Haley Langebrake with 14 digs. Langebrake and Lubbehusen fused for seven aces, and Sydney Altmeyer’s five kills led a team that’s gradually finding traction after its preseason hopes were amended.

“Their goal this year was to have a winning season,” Rogers said. “We know that’s not going to happen now, so we’re now just looking toward the next month of maybe winning some matches between here and tournament time and maybe surprising some people come tournament time.”

Contact Brendan Perkins at

More on