“She believed that she could. And so she did.”
That was the phrase that was on one of the numerous banners that were brought to Portsmouth High School on Tuesday evening in support of Portsmouth senior Aiden Fields, a standout volleyball player who sat just 16 kills away from 1,000 entering the evening.
With a matchup against Ohio Valley Conference opponent Coal Grove looming, the belief was that Fields had a good chance to obtain the 1,000-kill mark against the Lady Hornets.
And on Tuesday evening, Fields didn’t disappoint in any facet.
By notching a kill in the 20th volley of the third set in the conference affair, the senior not only became the first player in the history of the Portsmouth volleyball program to obtain 1,000 kills, but also collected a game-high 17 kills to go along with three aces in leading the Lady Trojans to a successful straight-set victory over Coal Grove (25-13, 25-18, 25-15) at Portsmouth High School in a historical day for the school.
For Fields, the goal that she sat out to accomplish from the start couldn’t have been done without the very teammates that have pushed her to be at her very best on a daily basis.
“It is wonderful,” Fields said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”
From the opening set, the contest proved to never be in doubt as Portsmouth wasted no time asserting its will over Coal Grove behind an excellent group effort. Four aces and a kill from Allison Douthat, along with three kills and two aces from Anne Marie Raies and a block, a kill, and an ace from Savanna Spence allowed the Lady Trojans to collect each of the first six points in the first set, and 17 of the first 20 volleys overall, en route to cruising to a 25-13 victory in the first set.
But after the Lady Trojans collected the first four points in the second set, Coal Grove didn’t go away, at least initially, as the Lady Hornets collected five of the next six points in the match to tie the score at five all.
However, Coal Grove’s efforts ultimately proved to be of a moot point as Fields really began to get rolling on the frontline.
After obtaining six kills in the first set alone to reach 990 kills for her career, Fields equaled her first set output within the first 15 volleys of the set as the 5-7 outside hitter really began to get rolling.
In fact, Fields made the near side her homage as the star frontline hitter collected four straight kills at one point — all from the left side — to give the Lady Trojans a 9-5 lead. Two consecutive aces by Kasey Murphy, along with two Portsmouth errors, allowed Coal Grove to tie the second set once more at nine apiece, but Fields, again proved to be too much for the Lady Hornets to handle as the senior collected three additional kills and all three of her aces over the remaining 25 volleys to lead Portsmouth on a 16-9 spurt en route to a second set victory.
“There’s nothing like coaching a person who is as dedicated to the game of volleyball as Aiden is,” Portsmouth head coach Brittany Mader said. “Aiden is in the gym before I am. She is a wonderful leader for our team and she does anything you ask her to do. She comes in, she always works hard, and she put in the work to earn her spot tonight.”
With the contest well in Portsmouth’s control, and Fields sitting just one kill away from the magic number that no Lady Trojan had ever reached before, the goal was clear: find a way to get the ball to the senior outside hitter.
But first, Portsmouth needed to obtain control in the third set. The Lady Trojans did exactly that thanks to the play of Rase, who was nothing short of outstanding in the third set, as the senior collected six aces in the final frame alone — in addition to an assisted block and a kill — to allow Portsmouth to obtain a commanding lead.
That opened up the window of opportunity that Fields needed to finally break down the barrier that nobody in Portsmouth High School history ever has broken down before.
With the Lady Trojans up by a 14-5 tally in the third set, Fields, once more, received an attack attempt on the left side and launched a kill shot that landed just inside the line on the near side to collect the 1,000th kill of her career. Lyda Spencer bookended Fields’ 1,000th kill with a pair of shots on her own to finish off a 12-0 run that allowed the Lady Trojans to roll to the win.
“I thought it was out, to be honest,” Fields said, laughing with Mader. “When they made (the signal indicating that it was our point), I was thinking, ‘Wow, that’s in!’ I was just really excited. All of my teammates congratulated me, and it was just a great moment. “It’s the best feeling ever. I am just grateful to have the support of my coaches, teammates, family, friends, and all of the fans who have supported all of us, including myself. They have all made this day possible.”
In addition to Fields’ 18 kills and three aces, Rase’s nine aces and four kills, Douthat’s five aces and a kill, and Spencer’s six kills, two aces, and two blocks allowed Portsmouth to collect the victory. Murphy’s five aces and three kills led Coal Grove’s efforts.
On most evenings, the victory is usually the primary cause for celebration. But on Tuesday evening, Aiden Fields’ efforts — which have never been touched before in PHS history — were, without question, the center of attention — and rightfully so.
“Aiden’s a wonderful person who is an extremely hard worker,” Mader said. “She’s humble and she’s dedicated. This accomplishment couldn’t happen to a better person, and we love her for the qualities that she has as a person.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7