MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon High School girls volleyball team is learning what it takes to compete the hard way.
The Yellow Jackets hosted the New Albany Eagles at “The Hive” on Tuesday evening for an Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division matchup. Despite winning Game 1, 25-17, the Jackets dropped the match, losing the final three games, 25-19, 25-23 and 25-20.
Even with the loss, coach Shae Baxter was pleased with her team’s performance against the Eagles (10-3, 4-2 OCC Capital).
“I was happy with our play,” said Baxter. “I think we did a really nice job of communicating. They did a nice job of talking out on the floor. They kept it up the whole game, and they fought point for point.”
Mount Vernon (3-9, 2-5 OCC Capital) came out of the gate firing away at New Albany and quickly took a 5-1 lead. The Eagles chipped away at the deficit, however, and pulled within two on two occasions. A 5-1 run by Mount Vernon helped it mount a comfortable lead, but the Eagles didn’t give in. New Albany outscored the Jackets, 6-3, down the stretch to make it a four-point game, but a series of errors gave the Jackets the 25-17 victory.
Just getting started, New Albany began to play harder in Game 2 and carried it over the rest of the match. The Eagles quickly took a 5-1 lead in Game 2, and withstood a Mount Vernon rally that saw the Jackets pull within one, 8-7. Much like Mount Vernon did in Game 1, the Eagles went on a 9-3 spurt to pull ahead, 17-10. A kill by Karina Shackle stopped the run for Mount Vernon, but no matter what the Jackets did, the Eagles had an answer.
A series of great volleys followed with New Albany slowly pulling away. The teams traded serves down the stretch, which allowed the Eagles to take Game 2, 25-19.
“I think we were prepared,” Baxter said. “We’ve been working a lot with our back row players, telling our hitters what’s going on at the net. I think they did a good job of that. (New Albany) is a strong defensive team.
“We made some adjustments. We were trying to find our spots and we adjusted well to (their blocks). They didn’t let a ball hit the floor.”
Back to even, the Jackets took an early lead in Game 3 only to see New Albany battle back. The Eagles took a two-point lead, 10-8, after a pair of Mount Vernon errors, but the Jackets responded by earning the next four straight to go up two of their own. New Albany eventually tied the game at 14, and then again at 18. A block at the net of Mount Vernon’s Rachel Ward put the Eagles up by one, but that was short lived as Mount Vernon and New Albany traded serves. A run of three points on kills by Shackle and Jauni Gleason put the Jackets up two, 23-21, and forced a New Albany timeout. Following the stoppage, the Eagles went on a 4-0 run to end the game in their favor, 25-23.
Not going without a fight, the Jackets continued to battle in Game 4. They held the early lead and kept within four points through the first rotation. Mount Vernon pulled within two, 13-11, after three hits by New Albany out of play, but the Eagles went on a 4-1 spurt to re-solidify their lead. The Jackets managed to mount another push behind the serving of Tatiana Leis, and pulled within one, 17-16, before News Albany called a timeout.
“We always come out really strong,” said Baxter. “I don’t know what happens or what goes on after that, but they want to win. They give it their all.”
The teams continued to battle one another, trading serve for serve. A tip by Alex Miglin kept it a one-point game, 20-19, down the stretch, but New Albany proved too strong. The Eagles closed the game on as 5-1 run to take the match.
Setter Kate Reynolds led Mount Vernon with eight points and two aces. Sam Nuce and Shackle each had six points, with Nuce scoring an ace; Leis had five points; Alysa Duncan scored four points; and
Sam Arcilla and Ward each had three points. Arcilla added an ace.
“(Kate) is our young one; she is only a sophomore,” said Baxter. “She is coming along; I’ve got a lot of aspirations for her. She did a really nice job tonight. She is growing every single game. I’m really excited about that.”
In junior varsity action, Mount Vernon won in two, 25-13, 26-24. Victoria Queen, Ashley McCann and Aubree Gree each had two aces for the Jackets.
The Mount Vernon freshman team also defeated the Eagles, 25-23, 25-18. Mackenzie Campbell led Mount Vernon with four aces, and Sarah Carhart and Micayla Severns had two aces each.
The Yellow Jackets are back in action on Thursday, hosting Olentangy Orange to start the second round of league play. Freshman action begins at 4:30 p.m.
“Thursday is our ‘Volley for a Cure’ event, and last time we went five games with them,” said Baxter. “I expect it to be a battle again; I expect us to play well and go point-for-point with them. I want them to earn it. ... I feel like the girls have really grown in themselves and in each other since the first time we’ve played. As long as we keep communicating and keep our passes up there, we’ll be OK.”