FOUNTAIN CITY, Ind.
There’s not many things the Union County High School volleyball team doesn’t do right, but one thing head coach Chris Wiederhold has pointed to is that the Patriots let other teams hang around at times.
They let it happen once Thursday night.
They made sure it wouldn’t happen twice.
After letting a nine-point lead evaporate in Game 2 of a Tri-Eastern Conference match at Northeastern, the Patriots ran away with a 19-point victory in Game 3, completing a 3-0 sweep over the host Knights.
The reigning TEC champion Patriots improved to 4-0 in conference play with the 25-13, 25-23, 25-6 win.
“That second game, we came out, we had problems with the fundamentals, but once these girls go back to the fundamentals, they get back into a great rhythm, and I think that was the difference,” Wiederhold said following Thursday’s match.
The rhythm was set by the Patriots early in taking a 25-13 Game 1.
The Knights led briefly, 3-0, but the Patriots (11-6, 4-0) pulled ahead on an ace by Allison Kassens, and they stayed ahead.
Carlea Handley had four straight kills and a block later in the match, giving the Patriots a five-point run all by herself as the Patriots finished the opening set on a 22-7 run.
The momentum carried early into Game 2 as Kassens had three straight aces, helping the Partiots open a 5-0 lead, and the Patriots looked in control, leading 14-3.
However, the Knights (6-10, 1-2) came to life with a seven-point run, pulling them back in the game.
Head coach Jerry Middleton said the Knights entered Thursday first in the state in aces, and they kept pace with five from Kendall Field and four from Michaela Barker, who Middleton said is second in the state.
“In that run, she serves five aces … they have a couple hitting errors on it, and we make a couple nice digs and a couple kills. So those are the things that ran on that (seven)-point run was that right there,” Middleton said. “We didn’t have to worry about serve receive, only thing we had to do was serve, and then play a little defense on a couple balls. But we’re happy. It was a good effort.”
Emily Loden put the Knights within one with a kill at 22-21, and eventually gave the Knights a short lead 23-22.
The Patriots responded well, retaking the lead on a block by Handley before winning the match on another by Sydney Bradford.
“I think as a team, we’re almost like a family, so I think we respond well together and we work well together to make sure the same mistake doesn’t happen again. So it’s a good teamwork environment,” Kassens said.
The Knights opened Game 3 with Barker’s fourth ace of the match.
The Patriots weren’t having any of it, this time, winning eight straight serves, adding a nine-point run later in the game and clinching the sweep with a 25-6 decision.
“The first game, we set the tempo a little bit,” Wiederhold said. “We did the better job of that, and that’s kind of a bad habit of us is letting the other team set the tempo, but I think that’s what we did a little bit better that first and third game. I think that was a big difference.”
Handley had 15 kills for the Patriots, while Ella Dils had six, Danielle Hill five, Kassens four and Bradford two.
Kassens also had six aces, Bella Pavey added five, Bailey Jenkins and Handley had two each and Taylor Cruse and Dils had one.
Pavey had 30 assists, Kassens had a team-high nine digs, Lauren Lester had six, Pavey five, Jenkins four and Handley two.
Handley, Hill, Pavey and Bradford each had a block.
Union County also owns TEC wins over Winchester, Union City and Lincoln.
Northeastern falls to 1-2 in the TEC with games yet to play against Lincoln, Centerville, Tri and Hagerstown.
Field also had nine assists, while Loden led the team with five kills and Kaitlyn Shaffer had four.