McDERMOTT — As a young team still trying to find itself, 2015 is a learning year for the Valley volleyball team. But the Indians learned an important lesson on Tuesday evening — they’re talented enough to hang with anyone.
In a five-set marathon match at Northwest High School, Valley earned its third victory of the season by beating the Mohawks 16-25, 25-19, 25-21, 13-25, 15-6.
Things started out rough for the Indians, as Northwest took 13 of the first 16 points of the contest to build a commanding lead in the first set. The Indians seemed to have their offense flowing well, but couldn’t keep their kills in bounds. The Mohawks took advantage of Valley’s mistakes, and went on to cruise to a 25-16 win in the first set.
It didn’t take long for Valley to put their mistakes behind them. The Indians quickly flipped the script and began controlling the pace of the game. Using the powerful swing of senior Kam Conaway, Valley kept pace with Northwest in the first half of the second set.
But when sophomore Faith Brown stepped behind the service line with a 19-17 lead, the Indians took complete control. She ran off four straight Valley points — including three consecutive aces — and Valley took game two 25-17.
“We’re focusing huge on the mental aspect. If you make a mistake, it’s OK, shake it off,” Valley coach Lindsey Turner said.
The momentum that Valley built in the second set seemed to leave the gym early on in the third set. A few Indian miscues coupled with a block and a kill by Northwest’s Alexus Lisath helped the Mohawks build an early 6-1 lead.
But just like Turner had preached to her team all match long, the Indians quickly recovered from their mistakes. Brown and sophomore Marissa Markins helped serve the Indians to a stunning 12-1 run to give Valley a commanding 16-9 lead. Though Northwest’s Jordan Collier and Megan Shultz came up with big kills to help the Mohawks climb back into the set, it wasn’t enough and Valley went on to take the third game 25-21.
Valley’s great play in the second and third games came in part due to big efforts from freshmen Bailee Day and Kaity Howard.
“I had two freshman on the court in the second, third and fourth game, my setter and outside hitter. I think they were key components for us tonight. They were huge,” Turner said.
With their backs against the wall, the Mohawks responded. Needing to win game four to extend the match, Northwest dominated on their way to a 25-13 win. Shultz and Mollie Ferrar grabbed the momentum early for the Mohawks, serving their team to nine of the first ten points.
But as they had done the entire match, Valley was able to keep a short memory heading into the decisive fifth game. Northwest took the first two points of the set, but Bre Gahm stopped the Mohawks cold with a kill. She then stepped behind the line and served the Indians to eight straight points — four of which were aces — to steal all the momentum. Valley cruised down the stretch, and clinched the match with a 15-6 win.
“In the fifth game, I just told them not to let up, whether we made mistakes or not,” Turner said.
Thursday marks the midway point in the SOC II season, as Valley travels to take on Minford. With the Indians having found their confidence and the fun that comes along with it, Turner hopes her team can finally turn the corner.
“The next time we come around and play everybody, it’s going to be whole new team,” she said.
Northwest also takes the floor again on Thursday, when they host Oak Hill.
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter