If John Glenn’s Muskies volleyball team was hoping that top-seeded West Holmes would come out flat against them in their Div. II volleyball Sectional tournament at River View on Oct. 16, they did not get their wish.
A team which has shown the ability to fall in and out of intensity mode over the course of the season, West Holmes came out clicking on all cylinders against the Muskies (9-14), and rolled to a three game win, carving out a 25-14, 25-21, 25-16 victory which advanced the Lady Knights to the Sectional final.
West Holmes (15-8) established its dominance early on, going up 5-1, then building that lead to 16-9 in the first game when Laina Snyder, Paiten Strother and Rachelle Morrison all recorded nice kills.
By the time the lead was 21-11, it was all over, except the Lady Knights have shown a propensity to let leads slip away this year.
But not on this night.
West Holmes scored the final three points to record the 25-14 win in the first game.
“We had been talking a lot about coming out fired up and being loud, because that makes us play better,” said Strother. “We knew that if we played our game we should win this game and we just wanted to come in and kind of prove that.”
John Glenn then turned it on early in the second game, busting out to a 4-2 lead, before Snyder toed the service line. By the time the strong junior was done serving, with the assistance of two Raichelle Erman kills, the Lady Knights had taken an 8-4 advantage. That lead grew to 14-8 when Cara Park recorded an ace and Strother chalked up another kill.
But John Glenn played their best volleyball over the next portion of the game and eventually got all the way back, knotting up the score at 17.
“We let things slide just a little bit, we served out a few, shanked a few and hit a couple of balls out,” said West Holmes coach Jim Park. “But we came back and were able to regain our composure.”
West Holmes then forged a four point edge on another Park ace and an Erman block, but again the Muskies worked their way back to within one at 22-21.
But Morrison and Snyder each recorded kills and an unforced error ended game two with the Lady Knights on top.
Game three was close, West Holmes holding a slim 7-6 lead, but a Strother kill and a pair of Park aces pushed the advantage to 10-6. That grew to 13-7, aided by Morrison and Erman’s kills, and then ballooned to 18-8 with a couple of unforced Muskies errors, a Morrison kill, a Maria Straits block and a Makayla Palm ace.
As Park subbed in judiciously, the Muskies began making a bit of a move, slicing the lead to 18-13. However, John Glenn began making errors, and by the time Snyder pounded two spikes home, and Park finished off things with a tricky kill off a set, West Holmes was moving on and John Glenn was going home.
“I thought we really played very focused again in game three,” said Park. “We got a chance to get everyone in the game, and since we have four young kids starting, they got to get their feet wet and see what tournament volleyball is all about.
“We came out and came right after them. We didn’t know anything about John Glenn, but we talked about how we just had to go out and play our game. I think we did that.”
West Holmes did it by avoiding those long stretches of uninspired play, remaining aggressive and focused almost the entire match. That was exactly what Park wanted to see from his team, and the hope is it will carry over to bigger and better things as they advance.