ONTARIO — First-year Plymouth coach Meagan Martin knew that her Big Red spikers had their work cut out for them taking on the Colonel Crawford Eagles.
Despite a valiant effort, the Big Red were outgunned.
Colonel Crawford scored the first 24 points of the first game, struggled in the second but went on to a 25-2, 25-16, 25-9 win over Plymouth in the lower bracket semifinal of the Division IV volleyball tournament at Ontario High School.
“Especially with Colonel Crawford’s record, we knew it would be difficult to compete,” Martin said. “We came in knowing they were a tough team.”
The Eagles began like it would be a really short night, bulling their way to a 24-0 lead in the first game. Alex Roberts served 23 straight points in the skein.
But in the second game, the Big Red picked themselves off the mat. After falling behind 8-1, Plymouth rallied to take an 11-10 lead. Savanna Mosley and Hannah Shepherd each had three service points in the run.
“We kind of let up, kicked back and totally lost focus,” Colonel Crawford coach Amber Christy said. “We will definitely need to stay focused Saturday night.”
Following a timeout, the Eagles took control of the second game. Plymouth was still hanging around, trailing 17-15, but Colonel Crawford registered eight of the last nine points to go up, 2-0.
“I actually felt we did a good job of blocking their hits,” Martin said. “I couldn’t have asked for much more from the girls.”
It was difficult at best when Nickyla Garverick — who is closing in on 1,000 career kills — was on the front line for the Eagles. Garverick ended the night with 21 kills and now sits at 999.
“It’s tough for other teams to face a middle (hitter) like Nickyla,” Christy said. “She also had six blocks and one assist.”
The Big Red were spent heading into the final game. The Eagles went out to a 14-2 lead and coasted to the win.
“Our girls have really improved,” Martin said. “I know the record doesn’t show it, but I couldn’t ask for more in my first year.”
Mosey, Alyssa Cunningham, Courtney Burkett, Abby Howell, Hannah Shepherd, Lauren Butcher and Micaela Adams played their last game in a Plymouth uniform.
Christy got a glimpse of her team’s future, as freshman Lexi Hoepf had six service points — including three aces — in her first varsity appearance of the year.
Roberts finished with 29 of 29 serving, with 12 aces, seven kills and 22 assists. Taylor Kelso had 18 digs at the libero position.
“We have to become more aggressive at the serving line,” Christy said. “We have to concentrate and play our game. If we get to the district, we will meet some strong teams.”
The Eagles return to Ontario High School on Saturday to play the Lucas-Mansfield Christian winner at 7:15 p.m. for the sectional title.