GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: McConnellsburg holds off James Buchanan for 3-1 victory
MCCONNELLSBURG >> Down 20-16 in the fourth set, McConnellsburg's girls volleyball team took a much-needed timeout.
The Spartans were leading by a set, but James Buchanan looked as if it would force a decisive set.
Until McConnellsburg turned it all around. Kailey Dils reeled off four straight service points to take a lead, and the Spartans went on to win the set and earn a 3-1 victory in the match.
"Not pulling out a couple close ones has been the name of our game," McConnellsburg coach Heidi Johnston said. "To pull out those close sets and hang with a team like them, that was a big win for us. There were some inconsistencies, but we'll take it."
The Spartans (4-0) were up and down all evening. Even in the fourth set, they had to take another late timeout after James Buchanan's Erica Eberly smacked a pair of aces to put the Rockets (1-4) ahead 23-21.
But McConnellsburg got two well-placed kills from Kylie Keefer, an ace by Bridgette Ritchey and a kill from Carly Swope to close out the win.
"We talked about their defense and where we thought the open areas of the court were," Johnston said. "Kylie found one in the deep corner, Kacey (Hann) pushed one sharp angle. We talked about making adjustments, which we don't always do well."
JB hitter Tyana Quivers said, "I think we were getting kind of tired. The crowd might have gotten to us a little bit because their parents were sitting right to our right side, so it was hard to focus. We slacked a little bit on our passing and digs."
After McConnellsburg gutted out a 25-23 win in the first set, the Rockets came back to dominate the second. Although they won it just 25-17, they led by as many as 12 points.
"We were really just putting it all together," JB coach Tonya Miller said. "That's the biggest problem that we've had is putting all of our strengths together, and we did that in the second set. They were following the ball, reading the ball and attacking the ball. When we were hitting, we were getting the points."
But it was McConnellsburg that showed off its strengths in the third set. The Spartans led by as many as eight points and forced several Rocket errors.
"We just kept working on our areas of the court that we needed to improve on and the spots that we thought would be most valuable to push it," McConnellsburg setter Lindsey Randler said. "We had a lot of new hitters come up this year, but working with them, it flows well for us. We keep each other up on the court, and talking really helps us to tell each other what works."
While the Spartans had a well-balanced attack – Keefer (11 kills), Hann (6), Swope (6) and Ritchey (4) were all big contributors to the offense – the Rockets lacked that same depth. JB's top hitters, Quivers and Eberly, split 24 kills evenly.
"I had a lot of other girls that had plenty of hits, but most of the time you can read them," Miller said. "We're learning that if you've hit so many times without a kill, you need to mix it up, do something different. Because they aren't as strong, we're learning what to do next."
McConnellsburg 3 James Buchanan 1
Sets — McC 25-23, JB 25-17, McC 25-17, McC 25-23
James Buchanan Statistics
Kills — Tyana Quivers 12, Erica Eberly 12; Blocks — Quivers 3; Assists — Kayla Cummings 29; Digs — Sarah Blair 13, Quivers 6, Cummings 6; Aces — Eberly 7, Logan Souders 4.
Kills — Kylie Keefer 11, Kacey Hann 6, Carly Swope 6, Bridgette Ritchey 4; Blocks — Hann 3, Keefer 2, Ritchey 2; Assists — Lindsey Randler 23; Digs — Swope 13, Randler 10, Kailey Dils 10, Arianna Lupey 9, Ritchey 8; Aces — Swope 3, Keefer 2, Randler 2, Ritchey 2, Lupey 2.
JV score — McConnellsburg 2, James Buchanan 1 (7-25, 25-22, 15-9).