MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon High School girls volleyball team celebrated its five seniors on Tuesday night at “The Hive.” Prior to their game against the Big Walnut Eagles, seniors Karina Shackle, Sam Nuce, Rachel Ward, Sam Arcilla and Jauni Gleason were honored for their contributions to the program during their four years.
Then, it was on to the Eagles, who are ranked 10th in the state in the latest coaches poll. Big Walnut made short work of the Yellow Jackets, winning in three games, 25-14, 25-18, 25-20. With the win, the Eagles finished undefeated in Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division play (15-3, 12-0).
Numbers weren’t everything, however. Mount Vernon showed much improvement from the first time it played Big Walnut, when it scored 10, 11 and 10 points, respectively. Though they lost, the Jackets (5-15, 3-8 OCC Capital) were happy with the team’s play.
“We just wanted to compete and play with confidence,” said Gleason. “Before, when we played at their place, we didn’t come in with confidence and it showed. This was our last home game, and we wanted to do well.”
“This was a completely different match than when we played at their place,” Shackle said. “We actually doubled our points, and we didn’t give up. I felt like we gave 110 percent tonight. They were a good team, but so are we.”
The Eagles jumped ahead early in Game 1, taking a 6-0 lead, but Mount Vernon battled back to pull within four, 17-13. Big Walnut finished the game on a 8-1 run, though, and earned the 25-14 win.
Game 2 was much more a close battle right from the start. The Eagles held an early advantage, but the Jackets kept clawing their way back. It wasn’t until Big Walnut went on a 6-2 run that it held any real lead, 17-10. That was short-lived, though, as Mount Vernon rode the serving of Gleason to pull back within two, 17-15. Big Walnut took advantage of some unforced Mount Vernon errors, however, to take the game, 25-18.
“We did a lot better moving out feet tonight and digging out balls,” said Shackle. “Our effort was great tonight and that’s what coach wanted to see.”
The third game was also a close one, much closer than the second as a matter of fact. Neither team led by more than three points until late, and the game was a display of great play by both teams. A kill by Kaleigh Sutherland gave Big Walnut an 11-8 advantage after one rotation, but the Jackets tied the match at 11 prior to the start of the next. From there, the serve was traded 15 times with the Eagles maintaining the lead. A kill by Alex Miglin and some miscommunication led the Jackets to tie the game at 20, but a hit out of play gave the ball back to Big Walnut. The Eagles then closed out the match with four straight points.
“I think we’ve made a ton of progress,” said Gleason. “Now we are actually working together. Everything is starting to work out, but it is the end of the season. ... This match will help us. Big Walnut is a really good team, so it is really good for us.”
Big Walnut also swept the junior varsity and freshman matches. The jayvee Jackets fell, 25-12, 25-13. Taylor Boucher had two aces, and Jessica Roden added one for Mount Vernon (16-4, 7-3 OCC). In the freshman game, the Jackets lost a close match, 25-22, 28-26. Alyssa Crow had four aces and Ashton Bowens added one ace.
Mount Vernon has one last regular season match on Thursday at New Albany. Tuesday’s match was good preparation for the final match. Mount Vernon fell in four games when the two teams played earlier this season.
“This was a really good challenge for us, and New Albany is good to. They’ll give us a run for our money,” said Shackle.