September 29th, 2020

Mercy's unending pressure sweeps Valkyries

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer


Mercy's unending pressure sweeps Valkyries
Elena Scott sets up Mercy's big hitters in a sweep of SHA (photo by Eric Thorne)

 The Mercy volleyball team was firing on all cylinders Tuesday night while its defense refused to let visiting Sacred Heart ignite theirs sweeping the Valkyries 25-23, 25-19 and 25-10.

The Jaguars (9-2) who are ranked No. 2 in the Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association poll only struggled in the opening set where the teams battled to eight ties and two lead changes.

After building an 18-12 lead that included aces by Elena Scott and Kayla Mantell they allowed Sacred Heart to chip its way back into the set eventually drawing even at 22-22 and 23-23 on kills by Tess Schrenger.

But Fallan Lanham and Meredith Brown followed with kills for Mercy to secure the first set. Lanham drove home six kills in the set.

Mercy never trailed in the two ensuing sets, and coach Matthew Thomerson had no expectations of what was going to happen.

“In that third set we played our kind of volleyball after being a little off in the first two sets,” Thomerson said. “Before the game I told the girls I know what we can do and I know the outcome of this game if we want it to be there but I’m not going to say it so it’s up to you to execute it and they did.”

Sacred Heart coach Brett Versen admits not having a full preseason, spring and normal schedule has made things challenging, but said that is no excuse for his team’s play.

“They are a talented team and we have to come out ready to play especially on the road and we had opportunities in the first set and if we made a few other plays maybe things change,” Versen said. “We weren’t mentally prepared tonight and didn’t step up to the challenge.”

Eleanor Beavin started set two off with an ace that seemed to set the tone with the Valkyries unable to find any rhythm as the Jaguars again built a six-point lead midway through at 12-6. Schrenger tried to rally her squad again with three straight kills getting as close as 14-13.

Mercy got balanced play all over the court and at the service line, net and setting from nearly everyone. Five different players came up with kills and an ace by Sydney Shaffer allowed the Jaguars to roll to the set two win.

Allison Holloway played a big roll at the net keeping the pressure on the Valkyries from her middle blocker position and finished with six kills.

The teams split two earlier season matches and each has lost to top ranked Assumption once.

“Since we lost last time, we have worked really hard and wanted badly to sweep them tonight,” Holloway said. “We needed to be the louder and better team with more energy and take the match from the first point. Start strong and finish this in three sets.”

As the teams took the floor for set three Mercy had all the momentum rolling and Sacred Heart appeared depleted.

Thomerson knew it was time for his team to seize the match and did not want a repeat of earlier matchup with the teams where his team squandered a 2-0 lead and lost the match.

“We gave them the game plan and we didn’t quite execute it to start, better in the second and in the third you do it with momentum and fire and that’s what we did especially with how well we serve,” Thomerson said.

Sacred Heart’s Alexandra Downs’ kill pulled her team to within 9-5, but Mercy reeled off the next eight points behind a kill and three blocks from Brown and her team fed off the sophomore’s play.

“This season could end at any moment, so this group of seniors know we’ve been wanting this since freshman year and we have to get it done not wasting any opportunity,” Holloway said.

Scott, a senior setter who has committed to the University of Louisville, laced a pair of aces to set up match point and Holloway closed out the match with the winning kill.

“At that point we’re up and it’s a crazy moment and was time to finish them off,” Scott said.

She finished with eight kills, 22 assists 20 digs and three services aces. She leads the team with 23 aces for the season.

“We really have to get everyone involved to consistently do their best in practice and games instead just having a few hitters to go through we want everyone to be ready,” Scott said. “Defense will be the biggest key shutting teams down like we did tonight and frustrate them.”

Lanham recorded 13 kills and 17 digs while Chloe Newton had nine kills.  

“We seniors are all involved and have different ways to lead in action and saying it vocally,” Scott said. “Allison, Fallan, Eleanor and me try to push hardest. I lead through action and Elenor as well giving critical information.”

Thomerson loves the balanced attack.

“Allison started slow and came on late and Fallan did as well and came on in set two,” Thomason said. “If we get every kid firing on even 80-percent we’re really good. Probably one of the best defensive teams in the nation.

Sacred Heart (7-4) awas led by Lucy Malone with 18 digs and Abby Powell recorded three aces while Schrenger led her team with 13 kills.

“We have to understand when we step on the court with Mercy and Assumption it’s a battle and we have to be better mentally and our upperclassmen who have been there before have to help guide us through that,” Versen said.

 

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