MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon High School girls volleyball teams ran into some stiff competition on Tuesday night at “The Hive.” The Yellow Jackets hosted the Hilliard Bradley Jaguars in Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division play, and the Jaguars swept all three matches from the Jackets.
The varsity Jaguars beat Mount Vernon for the second time this season, winning in four games, 25-22, 15-25, 25-19, 25-10.
“I felt we played really well,” said Mount Vernon coach Shae Baxter. “We knew they had some really strong hitters, some really tall girls, and we worked on a whole lot of blocking in practice. I think they stepped it up and did a really nice job. The first time we played them, it was a whole different story, so I am proud of them. They’ve improved a lot.”
Right from the start, the match was a battle. Bradley (13-5, 7-2 OCC Capital) jumped ahead, 8-3, in Game 1 only to watch Mount Vernon (3-13, 2-7 OCC Capital) tie it up at 8. The Jaguars then moved ahead by five, 15-10, but the Jackets responded to pull within three on occasions. A late Mount Vernon run tied the game at 22, but following a Bradley timeout, the Jaguars scores three straight to put the game away, 25-22.
Game 2 was more of the same back-and-forth action as neither team was giving in. Mount Vernon led early, only to watch the Jaguars even things up at 7. A four-point run spurred by the blocking at the net put the Jackets up, 12-8, and after trading points, Bradley got control of the serve on a kill by Kelly Dalton and called a timeout. Mount Vernon regrouped and came out firing on the next serve. Rachel Ward slammed a kill, which started the Jackets on an 8-2 run to make it a 22-13 game. Mount Vernon then put the Jaguars away on kills by Sam Nuce and Ward.
“We had a lot of momentum in that second game,” said Ward. “We were playing well; it was great. Our positive attitude helped a lot.”
With that momentum, the Jackets began Game 3 on a roll. Mount Vernon scored the first six points behind the serving of Kate Reynolds, but then had to painfully watch as Bradley worked its way back into the match. An 11-2 run by the Jaguars swung the momentum in the other direction and put Mount Vernon in a 17-12 hole. From that point, no matter what the Jackets put together, they could get no closer than three points. Bradley held on for a 25-19 victory to take a two games-to-one lead.
Bradley got a taste of its own medicine in Game 4, jumping out to a 5-0 lead and then watching as Mount Vernon whittled it away. The Jackets pulled within one, 6-5, on the serving of Tatiana Leis, but the Jaguars answered with eight straight points off several Jacket errors. Six-foot-2 middle Hayley Benson began to dominate at the net during the stretch for Bradley, registering several kills and blocks. The Jackets did manage to pull within five, 15-10, but a kill by Benson gave Bradley the serve, and it did not relinquish it. The Jaguars scored 10 straight points to end the match, 25-10.
“I think a couple of times we got into their heads and made them earn their points,” Baxter said. “Overall, we played really well. We dug well, we blocked well. We just didn’t finish.”
Courtney Burke and Ward each had five kills and 10 blocks to lead Mount Vernon. Shackle and Alex Miglin had five kills as well. Reynolds had 24 assists and seven points, and Jauni Gleason had 20 blocks.
“I think we are working hard and we’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season,” said Ward.
In the junior varsity contest, Hilliard Bradley overcame a fierce Yellow Jacket team in three games, 28-26, 10-25, 25-23. After splitting the first two games, Mount Vernon found itself clinging to an 18-7 advantage in the third game, but the Jaguars scored 18 of the final 23 points to take the win. Jessica Roden, Melissa Hall, Tayla Boucher and Victoria Queen each had two aces in the Mount Vernon (11-6) loss.
Mount Vernon’s freshman team also dropped its match in three games. The Jackets took Game 1, 25-14, but the dropped the next two, 25-11 and 25-20. Sarah Carhart led Mount Vernon (8-7) with five aces. Alyssa Crow added two aces.
Mount Vernon is back in action on Thursday, traveling to Watkins Memorial for another league contest. The Jackets beat the Warriors in four games when they played earlier this season. Junior varsity is set to begin at 5:30 p.m.