Clutch play when it was necessary allowed Cardington to sweep Fredericktown in a Tuesday KMAC volleyball match by scores of 25-17, 25-20 and 25-23.
After winning the first set convincingly, the Pirates trailed through a good bit of the second set and were facing defeat late in the third set before finishing with a 9-1 run to turn a 16-22 deficit into a two-point win.
“We’ve talked these last few weeks about sense of urgency and just the amount of effort no matter who we’re playing,” said head coach Ryan Treese. “We played with a sense of urgency. It makes a difference.”
Down the stretch, it was necessary. After talking a 2-0 lead on a defensive point and one off a Cadie Long serve, the Pirates watched their opponents go on a run to take a 10-7 lead. The Pirates would keep it close, only trailing 14-13 at one point, but two points by both Taylor Bryant and Jillian Bouton pushed the Freddie lead to a 22-16 margin, making it look like a fourth set would be imminent.
Cardington had different plans, though. The team got the ball back with a defensive point and Payton Goodman responded with seven straight serves for scores. Fredericktown would get the ball back trailing 24-23, but would not be able to extend the set thanks to the Pirates finishing things off with a quick defensive score to remain perfect in league play at 7-0 (10-3 overall).
Things were easier in the first set. After opening with a defensive point, the Pirates got three from Long, which was followed by one from Jadine Mills, two from Audrey Brininger, one by Alexis Crone, two from Madison Linkous and two more from Goodman to lead 17-10 in a set they would win by eight.
“The first set was awesome,” said Treese, who was pleased with his team’s serving in the early going. “We controlled it from the line. I looked at the stats from the third set and one of the differences was we had no aces until point 19, I think.”
Neither team could get a real edge for much of the second set. While the Freddies held an advantage for much of it, they weren’t able to get a comfortable lead, with 7-4 and 14-11 being their biggest lead. Treese noted that his team works to prevent opponents from going on several-point runs.
“We talk about no runs of three all the time and that was the difference in the second set,” he said. “We would go 2-1-2-1-2-1 and they never went on a run of three. No runs of three and they’re not gaining points on us.”
Three straight points by Mills after a defensive point gave the Pirates a 15-14 lead. The teams would battle for the lead until Cardington got three from Linkous to turn a 19-19 tie into a three-point lead. Then, with it 23-20, Goodman served for two scores to give her team a 2-0 lead in a match they would sweep after their third-set comeback.
Treese noted that his team possibly got stronger in the win due to being able to get sophomore Madison Caulkins valuable playing time. The coach noted that she had only played sparingly this fall, but was needed against the Freddies due to middle Izzy Wickline being out with illness.
“We talked about it the last three or four weeks at practice that we’re going to need her down the road,” said the coach. “We need that 6’, 6’1” presence on the right side and in the middle to help our blocking down the road. For her to get game time against Fredericktown and potentially against a Centerburg is going to be beneficial to us, maybe even more than for her, right now.”