Freshmen aid varsity in Valley volleyball’s win over North Miami
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
AKRON –- The Tippecanoe Valley volleyball team did not have Bree Sheetz and Ava Smith due to injury against visiting North Miami at Rita Price Simpson Court at the TVHS gym Tuesday.
But thanks to freshmen like Avery Wagoner, Mackaylie Costello, Emma Patrick and Maddie Thompson, that was not going to keep them from improving to 4-0 in the Three Rivers Conference.
Valley won 25-11, 25-19, 25-17 for their seventh straight win. They are 8-2 overall.
North Miami fell to 2-7, 1-2.
Valley jumped out to a 13-4 lead in Game 1 and added another six-point run to get the lead to 21-7.
Game 2 was closer. Valley was clinging to a 20-18 lead when a Costello kill gave Valley a sideout. A Macy Kirchenstien ace, a miscommunication by North Miami and another Costello kill got the lead to 24-18.
Two points later, a Wagoner kill off the North Miami block on set point gave Valley a 2-0 lead.
Valley coach Ashley Derf said the injuries had forced the team to adjust. The adjustment process started with a win at Maconaquah five days earlier.
Getting used to the faster tempo has been an adjustment for the freshmen.
“Great, those kids are awesome,” Valley coach Ashley Derf said of Wagoner and Costello. “A lot of potential for them. We’ve been having Mackaylie and Avery kind of jump up all through the season, and you saw tonight, they’re great. A lot of good things yet to come for them. … They’re getting there. They’re learning. We always tell them, ‘Stop acting like a freshman.’ And they’re doing it.”
While the veterans contributed during important moments in the first two sets, the veterans took over in the third set. Mallory Durkes had two kills sandwiched around fellow senior Brayden Baney’s clean ace as part of a four-point run that made it 16-9.
A four-point North Miami run after a timeout got the Lady Warriors within 20-16, but Valley answered with four points of their own on a Joey Witmeyer service error, a North Miami kill error and two Karli Hogue aces.
A Colette Blackburn kill of the North Miami block ended the match.
Not having Sheetz and Smith also affected setter Macy Kirchenstien’s job.
“I have to make adjustments because every person has different sets,” Kirchenstien said. “Bree’s are tighter. Ava’s are off. So I have to make adjustments to the people that are stepping into their places. We’re doing it. We’re doing it as a team.”
Kirchenstien said 2021 Valley grad Hannah Engstrand, who finished with over 2,000 career assists, has been her role model.
“I’ve been setting ever since I’ve played volleyball,” Kirchenstien said. “But with Gigi (Engstrand) being the main setter and me having to set JV and stuff, it’s a lot different. The level of intensity is a lot different. But that’s just something we work on.”
Valley has also thrived on its serving variety. They produced 14 aces as a team against North Miami. Baney, Wagoner, Kirchenstien, Hogue, Abby Koch and sophomore backliner Erika Henderson all had at least one ace.
“They all have different strengths,” Derf said. “Macy K. is very good at putting the ball wherever you ask her to put the ball. … Abby’s really good at that deep serve with topspin. But when we need to pull short, she can. Karli Hogue is another one like Macy where she can put the ball wherever you need her to put it. And then Erika has a great, low rocket serve. So yeah, a lot of variety there.”
Valley also won the JV match 25-17, 25-21.
Tippecanoe Valley def. North Miami, 25-11, 25-19, 25-17
Brayden Baney – 2 kills, 2 aces, 12 digs, 2 assists, 12 serves received; Avery Wagoner – 3 kills, 1 ace, 1 block, 8 digs, 2 assists; Macy Kirchenstien – 1 kill, 1 ace, 3 digs, 13 assists; Mackaylie Costello – 10 kills, 4 digs; Mallory Durkes – 7 kills, 2 blocks, 2 digs; Abby Koch – 2 kills, 3 aces, 1 block, 8 digs, 7 assists, 4 serves received; Emily McGriff – 1 kill, 2 blocks, 2 digs; Emma Patrick – 1 kill; Colette Blackburn – 4 kills, 1 block, 9 digs, 4 serves received; Karli Hogue – 4 aces, 8 digs, 6 serves received; Erika Henderson – 3 aces, 4 digs, 4 serves received; Maddy Thompson – 1 block, 2 digs
VALLEY JV STATS
Emma Patrick – 3 kills, 1 block; Avery Wagoner – 3 kills, 1 block, 4 aces, 4 digs
Avery Wagoner Mallory Durkes