WEST ALEXANDRIA – After allowing Twin Valley South to win the first set, the Blackhawks managed to win the next three sets to capture a Cross County Conference victory against a quality opponent. But as we shall see, the Blackhawks did it in fashion likely to give Coach Billie Hunt a cardiac arrest. But when the team needed points, it was the seniors on the squad that stepped up and made plays. The scoring was 24-26, 25-16, 25-21, 25-22.
The service of the Mississinawa Valley Blackhawks was a big factor in the first set. The team got a lot of aces from Sidnie Hunt and Taylor Stachler. South adjusted some to the strong service later in the match, but it was definitely a factor in the first set. The Blackhawks had a slim 22-19 lead, but after a South time out the team seemed to lose momentum and South surged ahead for the win.
In the next two sets, the Blackhawks inexplicably started slowly allowing South to get an early lead, so the Blackhawks had to play catchup. It had to be exasperating for the coach to have the team start so slowly and have to regain momentum. In the second set after knotting the score at 11-all, the Blackhawks made their move. The combo of seniors Hunt and Olivia Murphy captured and then extended the lead for a solid win.
“I think we got a little tired tonight,” Coach Hunt said. “We do jump serves and that takes a little extra out of you. It’s hard on your arm and on your body so that cuts down on the endurance. But those serves pay off, we had some aces tonight. Plus we don’t substitute much – we are using mainly eight varsity players.”
In the third set, the Blackhawks seemed determined to give it away. They started sloppy and at one point had three bad serves in a row – all of their momentum had been frittered away. But Murphy had an ace, Hunt had a block and a kill and suddenly the team was back in business with new energy and they were able to go on a run and capture the lead. When South made a move late to try and catch up, it was Murphy who had a block, then two kills in a row to extend their lead and the team was able to pull away for the win.
‘Olivia [Murphy] was on fire tonight. She had a great night with her sets too – she put them where they needed to go. And her serves were on tonight – I don’t know if she missed any,” Coach Hunt said. “The sophomores are following the lead of all of our seniors. A lot of the team is on varsity for the first time and they are depending on our seniors to show the way.”
In the last set it appeared that the bus driver could walk out early and get the bus warmed up for the trip home. The team got off to a strong start this go around and seemed to take charge of the game. But with a 19-11 lead the team lost control and allowed South to go on a 8-1 run. This time coach Hunt had seen enough and took a timeout. Despite a couple of bad serves, the Blackhawks got back on track after the timeout and were able to put South away and make that long bus ride home shorter with a quality win.
“Great competitive games tonight,” Coach Hunt said afterwards, “Our girls were working like crazy to get hits and South had a great defense – they ran all over the place and weren’t going to let the ball drop. We were both hitting and tipping the ball, but no matter what we did, they got a hand on the ball. I was proud of our team tonight. It was a good win.”