WEST PORTSMOUTH — 2014 was a banner year for the West volleyball team. After years of toiling near the bottom of the SOC standings, the Senators finally broke through and captured a sectional title for the first time in nearly a decade-and-a-half. This year, Portsmouth West wants even more.
“We’re coming off that high, and we worked really hard this summer. We’re hoping to continue that and progress even further this year,” West coach Brittany Sessor said.
Still riding the high from last year’s sectional title, the Senators cruised to a win in their first match of the season on Tuesday, sweeping the Eastern Brown Warriors 25-18, 25-22, 25-5.
The Senators came out on fire, winning 10 of the first 11 points in game one to take a commanding 10-1 lead. Senior Madisyn Dillow paced West early, recording three kills and a block in a six-point span.
The early burst was just the start for Dillow, who came up with a number of clutch kills throughout the match from her hitter position.
“I knew from the moment she stepped out there she was going to be on fire. She was hot tonight, hitting-wise,” Sessor said.
However, the Warriors were able to put together a run of eight consecutive points to cut the Senator lead to 10-9. West committed three errors and allowed an ace in that eight point span.
With the game up for grabs, Dillow seized control. Her monster kill sent the serve back the Senators, who would take nine of the next 11 points to reset their lead at 20-11. After trading points back and forth for a few serves, Kayleigh Coleman slammed the door shut with an ace to give West a 25-18 win in game one.
Coleman, the Senator setter, would also finish as West’s assists leader on the evening.
In game two, it was Gracie Evans who sparked the Senators with an early run of strong serves from the backline. She recorded the first four points of the game — including three straight aces — to give West an early 4-0 lead.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on serving in practice. It’s the key to everything, it’s the beginning of every point. We’ve got to be able to serve well,” Sessor said.
Strong serving kept the Senators comfortably in front for much of game two. That is, until Eastern Brown ran off three aces in a four-point span to spark a Warrior run. Later, two straight Senator errors would cut their lead to 17-15.
But errors would do the Warriors in as the game went down to the wire. Eastern Brown hit the ball into the net on back-to-back points to give West a 22-18 lead. Though the Warriors would put a scare into the Senators with a late kill and an ace to make it 24-22, Katelyn York put a bow on the game with a kill to give West a 25-22 win in the second set.
The third game was pure domination by the Senators. West servers combined to record nine aces in the final set, led by five from Haleigh Throckmorton. She recorded four in a row at one point. giving the Senators a commanding 8-2 lead. The Warriors never strung together more than two straight points throughout the final game, and Hannah Dixon capped the game by recording five straight points, including two aces.
“Hannah Dixon I don’t think had a single hitting error throughout the night,” Sessor said. “She didn’t nessecarily have a lot of kills, but she was really effective and consistent. That’s what we need, and that’s what we expect from our front row.”
The Senators take the court again on Thursday, when they travel east to take on Manchester.
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter