Although the volleyball season is just one match old, Morristown West’s Lady Trojans already have a huge victory under their belts.
West captured a five-match thriller over Jefferson County Tuesday night at Michael R. Reed Gymnasium.
The Lady Patriots took the first set 25-19 and the third 25-23. West had a 25-20 win in set two and tied the match with a 25-18 decision in game four.
In the deciding set, the Lady Trojans trailed by 2-1 to start but reeled off 10 straight points and went on to a 15-9 victory. It was the second match of the season for Jefferson County after a season opening win over Knox Carter on Monday.
The match featured the two teams with the most experience in the Inter Mountain Conference with most people listing the Lady Patriots as the league favorite.
However, West put together the victory despite blowing a huge lead in the third game.
Lady Trojans’ coach Natalee Gruse said, “We’ll take a win anytime and to start the season with one is even better.
“After how we played in the jamboree, the big thing for us was consistency in everything...serving, passing, hitting,” she added. “Tonight, we had our ups and downs but we did a good job.”
“I thought the girls played really hard. They pushed through when I thought we were going to let them get a few more points than they should have at times.”
In talking about the third game, the coach said, “We have a tendency to let runs effect us a little more than we should. We give up five or six straight points sometimes when it really should be one or two.”
Gruse closed, “I was proud of the way we played all the way around from top to bottom. We’ve got a lot of work to do moving forward but this was a great way to start the season.”
The Lady Patriots’ Torey Yocom said, “It’s a mental game for us. We definitely have the skills and the abilities.
“We’re afraid to make mistakes instead of going for aggressive plays,” she said. “So, we shy away and that’s when we make errors. We let it get in our heads too much.”
Yocom went on to say, “We showed what we’re capable of when we came back in the third set. I think the skills are there. But it’s still early on in the season and we’ll get better.”
Nina Hodges led the Lady Trojans’ offense with 21 kills while Kendall Mattison added 17, Rebecca Noble 14 and Carly McKenna 12. Katie Wallin had an amazing 61 assists while Halyn Long had 28 digs followed by McKenna with 20, Nina Lovelace 15, Wallin 14 and Faith Heskett 10.
Taylor Simmons and Hodges had seven blocks each and Mattison recorded six.
The opening set was close early in the match and was tied five times. However, the Lady Patriots broke out of an 8-8 deadlock with seven straight points. Abby Blankenship and Bella Webb had kills, Makayla Alvey put down a winner and Cami Mincey served up an ace in the spurt.
West rallied within two at 21-19 on a kill by Nina Hodges and a hitting error by the Lady Patriots. But a double-hit gave the serve back to Jefferson County and Mincey served out the win.
The Lady Patriots jumped to a 6-2 lead in the next set before West ran off a six-point run as Mattison and Noble had kills. The Lady Trojans were up 10-8 when Webb knocked a winner into the back corner and Alvey served a pair of aces to go along with a kill by Sidney Keck for a 13-10 lead.
It was then tied at 13, 15, 17 and 18 before Noble had a kill and McKenna served five straight points. Mattison had two kills and scored on a block before putting down a kill for the game-winner.
West appeared to be on its way to another win in the next set when it jumped out to a 13-5 advantage behind the hitting of Hodges and Mattison and a couple of aces by Long.
However, the Lady Patriots scored five straight and then added five more after Hodges had a kill for West. The visitors tied it on a Mincey ace and took the lead on a dink by Webb. It was the Lady Trojans’ turn to go on a scoring streak and they got four straight including an ace by Wallin.
The lead was still four at 21-17 when Alvey had a kill and Webb served an ace that went along with two errors by West to tie the score. West then grabbed a 23-21 lead before the Lady Patriots scored the last four points to pull out the win.
Two aces from Long sparked a 6-0 run that put West out in front 12-6 in the fourth game. The two teams both made several mistakes as West went on to the most lop-sided win of the match.
West scored first in the deciding set but then hit two straight out of bounds to fall behind. Hodges took over the serve and the Lady Trojans scored 10 straight points. She had an ace, McKenna scored on a dink while Noble and Simmons had kills with the rest of the points coming on hitting errors.
Keck and Harley Shumaker had kills as the Lady Patriots tried to rally with a 6-2 run but they could get no closer as Mattison slammed down a kill and the deciding point game as the losers couldn’t get a return back across the net.