Heath made coach Shela Croom and her staff look like geniuses Tuesday.
After some frustrating losses, the Bulldogs parlayed some minor changes into an impressive 26-24, 25-15, 25-19 Licking County League volleyball win against visiting Lakewood.
Heath (4-4) is looking up at the Lancers (5-3) in the standings, but didn’t play like it as first-round play ended. They were down 24-23 with Lakewood a point away from taking the first set, but rallied to win 26-24 before taking charge of the match.
“We had a big pep talk in the locker room,” Boyd said. “We really showed that we can fight, and that we had the talent to pull it out.”
“Winning a close game like that got our energy up,” senior Mikhayla Wolfe added. “We stayed positive. Usually, when we get down, even if one person gets down, we all get down.”
Croom said she and her staff moved a few girls around, to give them more confidence.
“The last few games were hard. We were close at times, but couldn’t finish,” Croom said. “After back-to-back losses, the coaches got together to figure out what’s going on. They have to have that confidence and want to finish. Tonight, they had that confidence and it made a big difference.”
After winning the first, the Bulldogs pulled away late in the second. Wolfe served an ace, Cierra Hughes scored off a dink and Alexis McJunkins had a kill to put Heath in command 23-14.
With sophomore Erica Belknap serving in the third, the Lancers jumped ahead 6-1 when sophomore Elaina Davenport assisted freshman Courtney Vierstra. But the Bulldogs battled back to tie it at 7.
Heath was clinging to an 18-16 edge after senior Gwen Bowman had a block for Lakewood. But the Bulldogs closed out the set and the match on a 7-3 run, getting kills by Boyd and Michaiah Senior, a block by Wolfe and a block and kill from McJunkins at the end.
Boyd and Wolfe liked the changes that were made. Boyd had 12 kills, 11 digs and two blocks, and Wolfe served seven aces and had eight kills and four blocks. Senior served 10 aces, Hughes had four aces and 25 assists, and McJunkins added eight kills and three blocks.
“We got a lot more touches this way,” Boyd said. “We talked, really got together and were closer.”
“We didn’t go with the same rotation,” Wolfe said. “It was better communication, better for the team. We want to win the rest of our matches, and we have the potential if we show up every game.”
Sophomore Emily Wogan had 28 digs and classmate Davenport 10 kills and 20 assists for a young Lakewood team. Callie Giacomelli added nine kills and 13 assists.
“It was a chance for them (Heath) to step up, and they did,” Lancers coach April Keys said. “If we passed well, we couldn’t execute the set. If we set well, we couldn’t execute the kill. We’re trying everything right now.”