With crisp execution from the opening serve, Ozark started fast in both games against rival Nixa and won easily, 25-15 and 25-12 in a Central Ozark Conference match on Tuesday night.
“This is definitely one of our biggest games,” Ozark senior Jackie Fugate said. “It’s probably the game that gets us the most pumped up, because it’s Nixa and that’s our rival.
“I think we executed very well and I think we showed them how good we are tonight.”
The Tigers (14-6, 3-0) quickly took control of the first set by scoring the first seven points behind two kills from freshman Paige Perry and one from freshman Kendra Sater.
“Every match we’re starting to see a little bit of progress out of this team,” Ozark coach Becky Justis said.
“I’m starting to see these young kids in particular get a little bit more confidence and they’re starting to do a little bit more.”
Ozark stretched its lead to 12-3 with a kill from junior Ivy Reynolds and extended it to 15-5 on anoter Reynolds’ kill.
The Tigers built a commanding lead at 19-7, before Nixa could answer. The Eagles (11-7-1, 1-2) reeled off six of the next seven points to cut the Tigers’ lead to 20-13.
Nixa junior Hannah Bracker led the charge with a kill, followed by back-to-back blocks on three consecutive points as the Eagles rallied.
But another kill from Perry at the net, followed by an ace by Perry on the next serve, gave Ozark momentum and control of the set.
“We did not control the ball on our side,” Nixa coach Greg Walker said.
“Serve reception lately has been very bad for us; we’re playing flat-footed and we’re not taking care of the ball.
“We gave them all the momentum they would ever need.”
The second set was much the same as Ozark again jumped to an early lead as Nixa had numerous hitting and passing errors.
Back-to-back blocks from Fugate gave Ozark a 5-1 lead, but the Tigers were far from done.
Two kills and a block from Reynolds, two kills from Perry, one kill from Fugate and Sater each put the game and match out of reach as Ozark seized control, 16-3.
“With us, you’re not going to be able to key on one hitter,” Justis said. “It’s a different person that leads us every night.
“It’s different people stepping up at different times which is great, because our opponent can’t leave anybody alone.”