FRANKLIN FURNACE – Already with a height and experience advantage over their hosts on Monday, the visiting Valley Indians took it upon themselves to close things out at Green.
After dropping the opening game in which the Bobcats scored the final nine points, the Indians swept the final three sets to prevail 19-25, 25-21, 25-12 and 25-15 in a non-league volleyball tilt.
With the victory, Valley raised its record to 5-10, while the host Bobcats fell to 5-12.
Both teams are members of the Southern Ohio Conference, but reside in opposite divisions.
While the Indians enjoyed an easier time of it in the final two games, winning 25-12 and 25-15 and trailing only once after the initial point of the third set, they had a harder time closing out the Bobcats in the opening two – but managed to do so in the second set that jump-started the win.
The 14-lady Indian roster is senior-heavy, and features five players at five-feet and five-inches or taller, including its front-line middle hitters in 5-9 Karsyn Conaway and 5-8 Kensie Spencer.
Valley relied heavily upon that up-front size, as Conaway collected 15 kills and Spencer 13, as Conaway chipped in a pair of blocks and two aces.
Another senior, defensive specialist and outside hitter Brooklyn Buckle, secured seven kills and served up four aces – as the Indians only trailed at three times during the entire match.
In often hitting downward to the shorter Bobcats, Valley got Green to struggle with hitting and attack errors.
“We knew we had a height advantage coming in, but we also knew Green was
scrappy and could play good defense, so the key was putting the ball down. Karsyn Conaway and Kensie Spencer had very good matches with several kills,” said Valley coach Kari Christman. “We also spot-served well. I wish we would have started out a little faster playing our game, but all in all, this was a good win. We played up to our potential. ”
The Indians shook off losing a 19-16 advantage in the opening game, as the Bobcats reeled off the final nine points – including four Kasey Kimbler aces with three consecutive to end it.
Valley led by as much as 11-5 in the opener, and didn’t trail until Kimbler connected with her first ace, giving Green its first lead at 20-19.
The Indians actually let another lead – an even larger eight-point advantage (11-3 and 12-4) – evaporate in the second set, as the Bobcats battled back to seize a 19-18 edge on four consecutive Indian errors combined with three kills by Green middle hitter Kame Sweeny.
But Conaway, with seven of her 15 kills in the second set, kept the Indians in front until they scored five straight points to make it 23-19 – on an attack error and four service points by Rylie Smith.
Spencer had two of her three kills in the game in the final eight points, including the clincher for the 25-21 victory.
She then had four kills in the third-game win, with Conaway and Buckle bagging three apiece – and Buckle amassing three aces.
The Bobcats won the opening point on an attack error, but quickly found themselves down by as much as 20-8 on a Conaway kill – and 24-12 on Buckle’s other ace.
Conaway finished off the 25-12 triumph with a kill, as the fourth and final set was similar – although the Indians never trailed.
Caitlin Kennard, who had three aces, landed one for a 15-4 lead – but the Bobcats scored six straight with a pair of kills which book-ended four Indian errors.
Green got as close as 17-12 on a Gracie Daniels kill, but back-to-back Conaway
kills combined with back-to-back attack errors ended the Bobcats’ comeback bid.
Conaway’s second ace made it 24-14, then Natalie Buckle closed the match with a kill.
Green’s second-year head coach Madi Applegate said her young club’s hitting effectiveness impacted its performance.
“We’ve been working on our hitting as the season has gone on and we’ve gotten better at it, but we have a lot of young players. Getting them with the confidence that they need to be able to hit the ball and hit it down consistently is a big thing,” she said. “At times, we really dug deep, showed a lot of grit and really worked well together. At other times, we should have talked a little bit more.”
The Bobcats were missing senior Rachel Cline, as Sweeny paced Green with 13 kills and three blocks, while Daniels delivered four kills and Kimbler three.
“We were playing right with a program twice our size, which I think is fantastic,” said Applegate.
The Indians are a Division III squad while the Bobcats are Division IV, but it was a “well-deserved win”, according to Christman.
“I was proud of our girls. Our leadership showed up and we came into the game fired up wanting to do the best we could do,” she said. “I feel like we achieved that.”
Monday’s match marked the first of four in four days for the Indians, while the Bobcats were playing their first of three for this week.
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