There was plenty of action to go around on Thursday night at Glenwood High School.
The New Boston volleyball team celebrated their six seniors, as well as the achievement of Ali Hamilton, who reached 1,000 career kills earlier in the week.
On top of that, the Tigers were hosting Notre Dame in an SOC match that put two of the top teams in the league against each other for the regular season finale. The Titans were able to knock off New Boston on the road, 3-0. (25-15, 25-8, 25-10)
With the win, Notre Dame moved to 17-5 on the season with an unblemished 14-0 in conference play. The Tigers are now 17-5 as well, with a 10-4 mark in the SOC.
For the Titans, they came in to the match with a lot of confidence coming off a 3-1 win over Wheelersburg on Wednesday. Notre Dame had envisioned themselves in this scenario long before it came to fruition.
“We usually set three goals for every season, and the first one is always what they want in the SOC and what their goals are,” Titans head coach Kelsey Glockner said. “They wanted to defend their title, and they decided to slap a big 14-0 on the board [in our locker room] with that goal. So, coming here tonight and being able to execute was what tonight was all about.”
Things didn’t go as planned off the bat, though.
New Boston came out in the first set scrappy, scoring the first two points of the first set. Fittingly, Hamilton scored the first point of the night for the Tigers after being honored before the match.
Notre Dame’s star power was on display as well, as senior Lexi Smith scored the first point for the Titans. In a back and forth affair for the first set, the Tigers clawed ahead to a 9-6 lead early before Glockner took a timeout.
“I’ve just come to learn that we’re not always the best first set team,” Glockner said. “We work really hard on discipline and controlling our side of the court always. We just weren’t controlling our side of the court, and New Boston came out ready to play.”
Whatever Glockner told her team in the huddle certainly worked out in her favor, as the Titans used an 11-4 run to claim a 17-13 edge before New Boston head coach Kendra Holbrook called for a timeout.
“We had a lot of really great moments, speaking mostly in the first set,” Holbrook said on her Tigers. “It just builds our confidence to show that they can do it, if you work hard it pays off, and it did for a few points for us. Then, we make a mistake and we get down, but it definitely shows what we’re capable of.”
Out of the Tiger timeout, Notre Dame kept their foot on the gas.
The Titans closed out the first set on an 8-2 run to claim the first set, 25-15. After trailing 9-6, Notre Dame used a 19-6 run to secure the first set win.
From there, the Titans would not look back. Smith again shined for Notre Dame in the second set, scoring first for the Titans and leading her team to a 7-1 run to start things off before the Tigers took their first timeout.
New Boston was able to fight back a bit, but trailed 15-7 when Holbrook took her final timeout of the set. Out of the break, the Tigers took the first point, but Notre Dame then scored 10 straight points to wrap up the second set, 25-8.
Smith again was dominant in the third set for the Titans. Once more, Notre Dame started on a 7-1 run before New Boston took another timeout.
The offense continued to put up points at a rapid pace for the Titans, as Notre Dame enjoyed a 10 point scoring run once again. The Titans had no trouble in the third and final set, winning 25-10.
A big factor of that success was Smith, who shined bright for Notre Dame in each set.
“I can never say enough about Lexi,” Glockner said after the match. “Not for just what she brings to the volleyball court, but her work ethic. Everything that she is, is because of how hard that she has worked. I think that’s an admirable thing about someone who has been given such natural talent.”
Smith finished with 23 kills for the match, and a kill percentage of 54%. She was also able to get it done defensively, recording 10 digs and three blocks.
“When I first met Lexi, she didn’t even play defense,” Glockner said. “Now, she’s right up there with our top defensive players. She’s just a gamer, and I love watching what she brings to the table just because of how inspirational it is and how all that hard work pays off in the long run.”
Katie Dettwiller also showed out in the match for the Titans, notching nine kills with a kill percentage of 53%.
The win over New Boston capped off an undefeated record in conference play for Notre Dame, but that was only one of their three goals for the season. Goal number two, you ask?
“Goal number two on the board is to make it back to regionals, we made it to the regional sweet sixteen last year,” Glockner said. “High hopes to get back to regionals, the girls are ready to get back in the gym and start focusing on sectionals and who are first sectional opponent will be.”
On the other end, Holbrook’s Tigers are having a stellar season in their own right. New Boston could also be a force to be reckoned with come tournament time.
“We’re third in the SOC … overall, I’m happy with our season,” Holbrook said. “Even if we didn’t win every single game, we definitely grew as a team, grew as a family, and we just all love being in the gym together.”
“I’m proud to be a Tiger. I’m proud to be a coach here, proud to be a part of a school that means so much to me.”
With six seniors on the roster, New Boston has plenty of experience. Though, there are some areas the Tigers hope to improve on heading in to sectionals.
“We’re going to improve on our coverage,” Holbrook said. “We’re going to improve on reading what the offense is doing so we can react in defense. Sometimes we get set in our defense, and we forget to just read the ball and where the ball is going so we can react to it.”
Both schools might not be seeing the last of each other this season, either. Notre Dame and New Boston are both in the Jackson 2 bracket in sectionals, with each receiving a first round bye.
The Titans will host the winner of Paint Valley and Whiteoak at home on Oct. 19.
The Tigers welcome the victor of Eastern and East in New Boston on Oct. 19 as well.
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 or on Twitter @BSpicerPDT