WHEELERSBURG – In more ways than one, the Wheelersburg Pirates volleyball team isn’t losing focus.
After a straight set sweep over county-foe Notre Dame Tuesday in Wheelersburg (25-18, 25-14, 25-9), that statement continues to be evident.
With just over a week left in the regular season, Wednesday’s non-league win over the Titans of Notre Dame elevated the Pirates record to 16-0 (12-0 SOC II) while Notre Dame falls to 16-3 (11-0 SOC I).
“Our serves were really good tonight,” said Pirates coach Allen Perry following the win. “We made a couple of errors early, but we stayed in the volley. There were some great volleys going on tonight on both sides of the court. They were able to stay in the volley and finish those big plays, those are such momentum builders. Notre Dame’s a good team, they’ve got a lot of talent and we have a lot of respect for them.”
As has been the case for this entire regular season, Wheelersburg played above the net and used their height advantages to give Notre Dame a ton of fits.
This was especially the case with junior hitter Kylee Barney. Barney dominated play for large stretches in the first and third sets while amassing eight kills and a team high ten blocks during Wednesday’s win over the Titans.
“Everyday she comes in more and more confident,” Perry said of his junior hitter. “That’s kind of scary. I think if she continues to come in and be confident, her ceiling is so high. And you won’t find a nicer individual. So humble, so polite. I think the world of her, she’s a great player.”
While it was Barney getting it done for the Pirates for long stretches, the most consistent threat on the offensive end in Wednesday’s win were seniors Mallory Bergan and Alli McQuay.
Bergan finished the game with a team high 20 digs to help the Pirates defensively while chipping in 14 kills and two blocks; McQuay led Wheelersburg offensively with a team high 17 kills as well as two blocks.
“In the stat sheets this year, Alli’s been showing up a lot and Mallory’s been showing up more so in the defensive end,” Perry said speaking of his two seniors’ play Wednesday. “But Mallory Bergan is one of those players that shows up in these big games, she showed up tonight. Both of those girls mean a lot to this team with their play and leadership, they’ll definitely be missed after this season.”
In addition to the big games from the Pirates three leading hitters Wednesday, junior setter Lauren Jolly chipped in 48 assists and 13 service points, junior libero Kaylee Darnell chipped in 17 digs, 12 service points, and one ace, junior Emily Boggs added 16 digs, and sophomore Ryleigh Meeker chipped in 10 service points in the win.
For Notre Dame, the Titans were led in kills by seniors Taylor Schmidt and Sophia Hassel with seven apiece, led in digs by junior Ava Hassel, and led in assists by senior Cassie Schaefer with 22 assists.
After Wednesday’s highly anticipated non-league contest, the Pirates return to SOC II play with a road trip to Oak Hill Thursday to face the Oaks.
With a three game lead and four games left to play in conference, a win in Thursday’s game against the Oaks would clinch at least a share of the SOC II title for Wheelersburg, a goal Perry says his team is still locked in on.
“We haven’t lost focus on that,” Perry said. “When we come in on day one and set our goals, that’s one of the first ones we set. I think they’ll be focused to close this thing out in the next week and a half.”
As for bigger picture goals, with the beginning of postseason play just around the corner, Perry and the Pirates are still dead set on making it farther than any Pirates volleyball team has been in the past.
“We’ve backloaded our schedule to make sure that we’re game ready come tournament time so we try to avoid that bye week similar to what we had last year,” Perry said. “Our goals are to not look too far ahead and taking this one game at a time and see what happens. Ultimately we’d like to get back and get to a place we’ve never been before.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved