Timely runs played a big role in Cardington’s home 25-11, 25-19, 25-13 volleyball win over Mount Gilead Thursday evening.
All three sets were closely contested in the early going, but the Pirates were able to generate runs to pull away from their guests in picking up the KMAC win.
“I don’t want to say I expected the slow-ish starts, but we pulled away,” said Cardington coach Ryan Treese. “We took good care of the line, which we have not done in recent games where we are out-acing our misses. Typically, we are missing more than we have aces. I played 13 girls a lot of minutes tonight. Three freshmen played basically the whole time. We’re working through things. This was a match that I think they needed confidence-wise.”
In the first set, the Pirates got two points by Lily Clark and three from Rylee Donkin, but Mount Gilead was able to keep the score close at 11-8. However, after a defensive point, Cardington got seven in a row off the serve of Abby Ufferman to open up a commanding 19-8 lead. They would win 25-11.
Megan Oder noted her Mount Gilead team simply has to play consistently for entire sets.
“We were just talking about that in the locker room,” said the coach. “We have to work on consistently sticking with teams. When we get that momentum and we’re working, we just have to keep consistent to keep wanting to push points and not give up a couple and let the other team go on a run. We have to stay consistent and do what got us to that point.”
The Indians would start out quickly in the second set, getting three points by Lindsey Ayers. Katie Oliver followed with one and Cassady Irwin added two, as MG jumped in front by an 8-5 margin.
They would not manage an offensive point until the end of the set, though. Clark would pick up three points to knot the score and Cardington would then get four points from both Autumn Holt and Ufferman to pull away. Trailing 24-16, Mount Gilead did get three straight from Olivia Long, but the Pirates were then able to score and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
After graduating a large and very successful senior class, Treese feels a big key to his team’s season will be his players’ ability to play hard and scrape out tough points on defense.
“I thought we dug the ball very well out of the back row and we extended plays on scrambles,” he said. “I thought we were going to out-scrap teams from day one. These last two matches, I think we’ve shown we’re a scrappy team and defensively, we can hold our own, which will only propel the offense.”
Cardington would get three points by Ufferman and two from Alexis Longsdorf to take an 8-4 lead early in the fourth, but Mount Gilead used points by Irwin and Abby Leonhard to close within one at 10-9. However, another late surge by the Pirates allowed them to pull away once again.
Holding a 13-11 advantage after a defensive score, Cardington got five straight by C.C. Hall and then tallied the match’s final six points on the serving of Longsdorf to finish on top 25-13.
Oder noted that her team has to cut down on unforced errors in order to stay in matches.
“We think for us, it’s the unforced errors and controlling our side of the court, so the missed serves, the missed hits and the missed communications,” she said. “Making sure we’re talking and controlling our side of the court with what we can, so really trying to eliminate those unforced errors we’re making.”
Treese is feeling his team is gaining confidence as the season has gone on, noting a big difference between their match with the Indians and an early-week one against Centerburg.
“This group has actually been together for a pretty long time,” he said. “They’ve been successful at the JV level and then we add these three freshmen in who really haven’t been successful. But that varsity speed is just a little bit different. Tonight I looked to (assistant coach) Linda (Brininger) and said, ‘Just look at the confidence they’re having playing just compared to Tuesday night.’”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS