Manchester rallies from 2 sets down to beat Valley
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
AKRON — The Manchester volleyball team rallied from a two-set deficit to defeat host Tippecanoe Valley 18-25, 20-25, 25-21, 25-21, 16-14 at Rita Price Simpson Court on Sept. 15.
Manchester secured the win on their fifth match point after Valley rallied from 14-10 down in the fifth set.
Valley’s four-point rally started when Manchester’s Gracie Lauer was called for a double-hit. Then, freshman Myla Crozier put an attack into the net. Then, Lauer put an attack into the net.
On match point No. 4, Valley’s Colette Blackburn put a crosscourt tip from the outside that skidded off the net and landed on Manchester’s side of the floor.
Blackburn and the Valley bench exploded.
But Lauer put down a kill off the block, and McKelvey Espeset put down a kill from the middle to end the match.
“Our biggest thing is as soon as we start to make a couple errors, we stay down,” Valley coach Ashley Derf said. “And we’ve got to not do that because we’ve come back before. … If we could have played every game like we did the Triton match (a five-set in Bourbon on Sept. 8), and the girls can because we’ve seen them do it, we’re going to win a lot more games. We’re working on it.”
Valley discombobulated Manchester with a 6-0 run in the first set to turn an 8-7 deficit into a 13-8 lead. With senior Emily McGriff behind the line, Ava Smith had a kill, and the Lady Squires were called for two net violations.
McGriff, a 6-0 senior middle hitter, later contributed a stuff block and two kills as Valley closed the game. A Manchester double-hit set up by a fierce Mackaylie Costello block closed out the game.
Manchester jumped out to an 8-1 lead in Game 2, and they still led 16-10 when Valley went on a 9-0 while Costello was serving. Costello had two aces, and Blackburn had a kill and Sidney Nelson had a tip during the spurt.
A McGriff stuff, a Smith kill and a McGriff kill off a Manchester overpass got the lead to 22-17, and the game ended on a service error from Manchester’s Marley Bellinger.
But in Game 3, Manchester scored four straight points to take a 22-18 lead after a Nelson ace tied it, and they closed it out on an Olivia Neal kill.
Nelson had a tip, a kill from the outside and an ace to help Valley take a 19-15 lead in Game 4. But Manchester hit the Lady Vikings with a 10-2 run to close the game and force a Game 5.
The passing inefficiency forces setter Avery Wagoner to work hard and leads to hitting inefficiency, according to Derf.
“Our passes are off, so Avery’s just trying to chase balls and keep them in play,” Derf said. “And we weren’t able to terminate balls like we needed to and then too many just roll shots and free balls, and we’ve got to clean that up.”
Valley is relying on three sophomores – Wagoner, outside hitter-middle hitter Costello and serving specialist Emma Patrick – for leadership.
“Is it ever a good thing to have sophomores be your leaders?” Derf said. “But if that’s who I have, then that’s who I have. Nobody else has stepped up to do it.”