Sarah Gabel started as a freshman in 2006 when the Ready High School softball team captured its third consecutive Division III regional title, and she also was a key player the last two years when it earned district runner-up finishes.
Gabel, an outside hitter, experienced the championship feeling in a new way Saturday as the Silver Knights captured their first district title in volleyball with a 22-25, 25-20, 23-25, 25-18, 15-13 win over Amanda-Clearcreek on Saturday at Hilliard Darby.
Ready is 18-7 and advances to a regional semifinal at 6 p.m. Thursday at Wilmington against Versailles, which won a district title at Tipp City on Saturday.
"We just made history today," Gabel said. "I'm ecstatic right now. This is the start of a new beginning in this program. I knew we had the ability. We really wanted it. We've had good teams before but we really worked as a team."
The fourth-seeded Silver Knights led 21-18 in the third game against the ninth-seeded Aces and clung to a 23-20 lead before Amanda-Clearcreek rallied to win the game on a kill by Tara McCalla.
In the fourth game, the Silver Knights built a 13-7 lead before the Aces cut it to 20-17. Ready's Lindsay Kusan served for three consecutive points to make it 24-17 and help the Silver Knights force a fifth game.
Amanda-Clearcreek led 10-8 in the final game, but a kill by Taylor Riggs sparked a Ready comeback. Erin Sekinger followed with a block to tie it at 10 and kills to make it 12-11 and 13-12. The Aces tied it at 13 on a kill by Jenna Ruble but a kill by Gabel gave Ready a 14-13 lead and Sekinger served an ace to close out the match.
"It was all about senior leadership," coach Mike Kusan said. "The intensity that's happened in the last month, our practices have been so competitive. I have 15 great kids everyday because of the depth in this program. We feel we have the best hitters in the district, and if we pass well, we play well. Our passes got a lot better toward the end of the match."