KINNIKINNICK — Vinton County made the 37 mile trip to Zane Trace on Monday, and refused to leave without a victory in its back pocket.
The Vikings played aggressive, attacked the net and got major contributions from everyone as it swept the Pioneers of the floor 26-24, 25-15 and 25-19.
“We didn’t start out as ready as I thought we should, but we really picked it up late in the first set and kept momentum the rest of the way,” Vinton County coach Ashley Ervin said. “We stayed in charge and found ways to create our own energy. Everyone who saw the floor played great from the back row to the net, this was a nice, solid team win.”
Trailing 7-5, Vinton pieced together a 5-0 run behind three kills from Sydney Smith to take a 10-7 advantage.
“The last couple of games, we’ve had Sydney play all the way around the floor and I think her playing in back row helps her forget a mistake she made,” Ervin said. “She’s seeing spots that are open from the back row and she can take advantage of them when she rotates back to the front. It’s all a part of her taking her game to another level.”
Both teams stayed within two points of one another, until Zane Trace managed to create some separation and controlled the lead 23-18.
However, Vinton County battled back with Lacy Ward at the serving line to bring the game to 23-22. Then with the game tied at 24, the Vikings caught the Pioneers napping twice, finishing on a total 8-1 run to take the opening set.
“We knew Zane Trace wasn’t to go away, we had to put them away,” Ervin said. “We stayed positive, and took everything one point at a time. The girls got aggressive and took the fight to them. From that point, the energy stayed high, they pushed and finished.”
That momentum swing never left Vinton County’s side, and it continued to go on the attack.
After ZT took an 8-3 lead, the Vikings countered back with a 7-1 run behind kills from Smith and Lacy Ward to take a lead, before closing out on a 12-2 run for a 15-10 advantage.
With the Pioneers unable to find openings thanks to a high-energy effort in the back row from Taylor Houdasheldt, Mika McFadden and Kerrigan Ward, the Vikings finished by scoring 10 of the next 15 points for the second-set victory.
“Our back row was definitely more on their toes and they read things much better,” Ervin said. “We still had a few balls that we didn’t to but that happens. But they’ve worked incredibly hard the last few days on serve receive and making sure their passes were on point, and that allowed us to be more on the attack at the net.”
Although the margin was never greater than three points and there were five ties, the Vikings maintained a lead in the third set.
Leading 17-15, Tristen Kirby came up with a huge block, one of her four blocks on the evening, which changed the complexion of the set and allowed the Vikings to finish on an 8-4 run to seal the game.
“This was just an overall great team effort,” Ervin said. “This is the type of game and mentality we need to have every night. We have some big games coming up so we have to continuing pushing.”
Smith finished with a game-high 18 kills and six digs, followed by 12 kills, five digs and a pair of aces from Lacy Ward.
Cameron Zinn had 35 assists, six digs and four kills, followed by 14 digs from Kerrigan Ward.
Vinton County returns to the court on Thursday at Wellston before its showdown with Alexander at home on Tuesday.