As the victories have piled up during this winning streak for the Circleville volleyball team, coach Danielle Perkins has been crossing off items on the to do list that her Tigers have improved on.
She could cross another off the list on Thursday following a dominating 25-10, 25-11 and 25-10 Mid-State League Buckeye Division win over visiting Logan Elm.
“One of the things we’ve been striving for is putting a team away once we get out to a good lead,” Perkins said. “At times this season, we’ve been satisfied when we get up five, six or seven points and we let a team back into a set.
“It was nice to see the girls really assert themselves tonight and play with the same intensity and passion from the first point in a set all the way through set point.”
The Tigers had a noticeable height advantage over the Braves and dominated at the net. Kenzie McConnell led the way with 17 kills, Mariah Kemp had seven kills and two solo blocks, and Alli Nungester and Morgan Blakeman added six kills apiece.
In the first and third sets, the Tigers converted 31 kills and had just six errors.
“That’s one of the things we talked about before the match, because we knew the block would be open,” Perkins said. “We wanted to get the ball to the setter in the fewest amount of passes possible and let our hitters put it away.
“I felt we played a pretty crisp match tonight and it was nice to see the girls feeding off of each others energy.”
The Tigers went on a 9-0 run in the first set, highlighted by three kills apiece from McConnell and Kemp, to take a 14-4 lead. The advantage eventually expanded to 21-6, following back-to-back kills from Kemp and Nungester, as the Tigers cruised to an early lead in the match.
Logan Elm battled in the early going of the second set and took a brief 7-6 lead after an ace from Rylee Mapes.
The Tigers answered with an 11-2 run, which was capped by an ace from Cara Cooper and a smash by McConnell on an overpass, to take a 17-9 lead. Back-to-back aces from Aubrey Smith eventually closed out the set.
“The second set is probably where we’ve struggled the most with carrying momentum over,” Perkins said. “Logan Elm made some scrappy plays early, but then our girls got tired of it and really put together a nice run.”
Five kills and an ace from McConnell helped the Tigers sprint out to a 13-3 advantage in the third set. The third ace of the night on match point by Smith closed out the eighth-straight win for the Tigers.
Smith added four kills and a pair of solo blocks for the Tigers, Jayla Parsons dished out 30 assists and Nungester served three aces. Cooper paced the defense with 16 digs, followed by McConnell with seven and Smith adding five.
The Braves had just 10 kills in the match, led by Maraya Neff with four and McKinley Krogh and Arowynn Savage adding three apiece. Kaiya Elsea led the defense with 17 digs, Neff tallied 10, and Alex Heeter and Savage chipped in six apiece.
“We’re playing mostly sophomores on the court, so we’ve talked to the girls this season about maintaining a positive attitude, continuing to work hard and improving as they become more accustomed to playing with each other at the varsity level,” Logan Elm coach Aaron Ridenour said.
The Braves (2-9, 1-5) travel to Washington Court House on Saturday for a non-league match.
The Tigers (9-2, 4-2) close first round play on Tuesday at Amanda-Clearcreek and then open the second round of league play the following night at undefeated Hamilton Township.
“Losing to Hamilton Township and Fairfield Union to open league play in the first round showed us that we had some things to work on and that we have to play as one if we want to have the success we want,” Perkins said. “We’ve beat some good teams during this winning streak and that goes back to playing as one and improving our play on the court.
“Our serve-receive was not very good at the beginning of the season, but it’s come a long way. We’re passing better, getting better sets to our hitters and they’re taking care of them.”