GRANVILLE — Energized by a raucous student section that made the trip to Granville, Heath’s volleyball team dug deep against steep odds Thursday and rallied for a memorable win.
The Bulldogs trailed 2-0 in their first match of the season, but stormed from behind for an 18-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-19, 15-8 Mid-State League-Ohio Division victory.
“I told the girls, ‘I want everyone to be at their football game,'” coach Shela Croom said of the cheering section. “They helped us so much tonight.”
Heath used aggressive hitting, strategy and conditioning to pull it out after losing two tightly-contested sets to start the match.
“We do a lot of conditioning as a team. We really push each other in practice,” said hitter Alexis Boyd, who led the Bulldogs with 16 kils and 25 digs. “We talk strategy during timeouts, try to find that person and put them down. We were able to get down on top of them (Granville) in certain spots.”
“We started well, but they figured us out,” first-year Blue Aces coach Chris Pickett said. “They knew where to be, and our girls couldn’t adjust to that kind of hitting. They’re so fast, and we weren’t quite fast enough to get close blocks.
“We’re young. We lost five seniors and only have three full-time starters back, but we’ll learn from this and get better.”
The Blue Aces (0-2, 0-1) finished strong in the first two sets. Malia Peterson had a pair of late kills and Danitza Bygrave added two more off Kyle Dawson assists in the first set. In a second set that featured 10 ties, freshman Emilee Skerbetz had two blocks, Grace Imhoff served an ace and Peterson finished things with a kill.
But Boyd got Heath going in the third with two monster kills off Taya Croom assists, also served an ace and closed it out with a kill.
“Our libero (Cierra Hughes) looked at us after the second game, and said she had faith in all of us,” Boyd said. “We’re very limited (in our rotation), but we put our heart into it.”
“We needed to get momentum, keep hitting the ball and doing the right things,” coach Croom said. “We knew everyone was tired, and it was a very physical match. But we couldn’t quit after two games. We go over it in practice all the time. We kept our aggressiveness the whole time.”
Kylie Gross, another aggressive hitter, had a kill and teamed with Kierra Hart for a game-ending block as the Bulldogs took big momentum into the fifth set. Croom had three more assists and served two aces as Heath closed the match with a flourish.
The Bulldogs also got 10 kills by Michaiah Senior and eight each from Gross and Mikhayla Wolfe. Taya Croom had 27 assists, 12 points and six aces, while Senior served eight points.
Dawson had 19 points and led the Blue Aces in assists, while Becca Flathers had 10 kills and Taylor Black seven. Ainsley Harmon led the way in digs.