ANSONIA – Ansonia swept Mississinawa Valley in a rivalry match on Tuesday, winning the Cross County Conference matchup 25-23, 25-14, 25-18.
“They played with energy,” Mississinawa Valley volleyball coach Billie Hunt said of Ansonia. “And I just wish we could have snuck some of that energy to our side because we definitely could have given them a better game. We could have given them a game that would have been a tossup.”
Ansonia took a big lead early as the Tigers went up 14-5 in game one, prompting Mississinawa Valley to use its first timeout of the evening. Mississinawa Valley gained some momentum after the break and scored the next four points, but Ansonia rebounded, and MV called another timeout down 16-9.
This time Mississinawa started to get rolling and cut the deficit down to three points, 17-14, which prompted Ansonia to use its first timeout of the night. MV kept it close, and Ansonia used its second timeout leading 22-20.
MV continued to fight back and tied the game up at 23-23, but Ansonia then scored the next two points to win 25-23 and go up one game to none.
“Sometime when we let the other teams go on runs we kind of mentally lose focus a little bit,” Ansonia coach Jason Hemmelgarn said. “But I feel like tonight even after that game one where we got the big lead and we let them get back into it … we didn’t let them; they earned their way back into it with some kills and some good serves … we still stayed focused and kept the energy up going into games two and three so I was proud of that.”
Ansonia clearly was focused in the second set. The Tigers scored five of the first six points and never trailed in the game as they cruised to an easy 25-14 win to go up two games to none in the match.
“I think you have to give a lot of credit to our servers,” Hemmelgarn said. “They did a nice job of getting them out of system.”
The rivalry between Ansonia and Mississinawa Valley seemed to cause a lot of tension among the Lady Hawks, Hunt said, which was a major factor in them struggling throughout the match.
“My girls, they let it get under their skin,” Hunt said. “I think every year we see that. Depending on whether we’re at Ansonia’s school or Mississinawa’s school, I think you see the tension kind of go back and forth. You’re more comfortable when you’re home. You’ve got your home crowd there. We just were tense, and we stayed tense. Gosh, I’ve seen them playing some really good ball lately, and it was hard to see them make some of the mistakes tonight that we haven’t been making.”
Despite falling down two games to none, Mississinawa Valley kept battling and came out much stronger in the third set. The Hawks took an early 5-2 lead, prompting Ansonia to use a timeout.
Momentum shifted after the timeout, and Ansonia took a 10-7 lead, which caused MV to use its first timeout of the game. Ansonia started to pull away, but then Mississinawa mounted a rally and closed the gap to 16-14. From there Ansonia scored nine of the next 13 points to win 25-18 and sweep the match.
“Unfortunately is just seems like some nights just aren’t your night, and things just don’t go your way. And tonight was that night,” Hunt said. “My girls have been playing really good for the last few games. And they came out with nerves like it was the first game of the season. I saw the tension all over them, and I could not get them calmed down from that.
“Win or lose, I would have just liked to have seen a better game played out there tonight. They were tense, but they’re a great group of girls so I’m not going to downplay my girls. It just was not our night.”
Hemmelgarn was very pleased with his team’s play on Tuesday, especially the play of Lydia Sink.
“Lydia had a heck of a night with her hitting, but she gave credit to the girls in the locker room, too, with the passes and sets that she was getting,” Hemmelgarn said. “So true team effort there. Our girls had her down for about 20 or 21 kills.”