Prep Volleyball: Lincoln holds off late Mercer rally to win in three games
Lincoln County¿s Ciara Saylor (12) goes for one of her team-high 10 kills against Lauren Barnes of Mercer County in the Patriots¿ 24-26, 2517, 25-23 win at harrodsburg on Thursday. Barnes had five kills. (h / September 14, 2012)
The Patriots scored 11 of the first 12 points in the decisive third set at Mercer County, then watched at the Titans nearly came back to win before hanging on for the 24-26, 25-17, 25-23 victory.
“I think we got a little too comfortable once we got into that third set. And we seemed to be pretty heavily in control, and I was afraid we were getting too comfortable and Mercer was willing to fight tonight and we needed to be ready for that,”¿Lincoln coach Amanda Massey-Wiles said. “The girls have a certain determination right now, they’re going to fight for wins they want. So even though we had a few weak moments, I’m obviously happy with the outcome.”
Ciara Saylor had 10 of the Patriots’ 24 kills and Breyanna Hoover had seven kills for Lincoln (7-10).
Darby Whalen pounded home 12 kills for Mercer (5-12) and had two blocks that went for points. Lauren Barnes had five kills, Allison¿Davis had two kills and three aces and Maddie Fyffe added three aces.
Although his team lost, Mercer coach David Sullivan said the way the Titans rallied in that third game shows they are maturing.
“They’ve got maturity, they’ve got grit they really did pull some things together tonight. Other than being unhappy with the loss, I’m very happy with the effort,” Sullivan said.
Kendra Mullins served Lincoln to an 11-1 lead in that third set, serving four aces and getting three kills from Saylor and two kills from Samantha Douglas, who had four in all.
A kill from Hoover made it 18-7, but Mercer then started its rally.
With Isabelle Sullivan serving, Mercer cut it to 18-13. Two straight points from Lincoln made it 20-13, but Whalen got a kill and Fyffe served three straight aces during a 7-0 run that made it a 20-18 game.
An ace from Mikki McElroy sandwiched between kills from Sullivan and Saylor made it 24-20 Lincoln, but Mercer still had some fight left. Lincoln had two straight errors and Davis got an ace to make it 24-23, but her final serve hit the net, giving Lincoln the set and match.
The Patriots had a strong start to the first set, leading 9-2 before Mercer came back.
The Titans went up 10-9, and from there the teams took turns taking the lead. A kill from Hoover tied the score at 20-all. Saylor’s wide shot made it 24-all, then Ashton Davis served an ace for a one-point lead and Lincoln hit it long to give the first set to Mercer.
That was the way Sullivan wanted to see his team play.
“Our hitting is improving all the way around. Darby (Whalen) is really coming into her own as far as hitting. And what also helped us is we have some good diggers now. Bailey (Harder), a freshman, played back there and were getting ready to move into a defensive position where she’ll be defense all game long. And we got some good hits, and I thought Isabelle did a good job of setting tonight.”
In the second set, Lincoln got a lead it would not lose, going up 11-5 on two straight aces form Vanessa Conley, who finished with three on the night.
Barnes served Mercer to an 11-all tie, but Lincoln took over from there, getting two kills from Jessica Olsen and an ace from Saylor to help key a 7-1 run. Saylor then slammed home a kill to finish off the set.
“We’ve kind of got a little bit of slow start in the past, so we’re working on improving that,”¿Massey-Wiles said. “It just didn’t happen for us in that first set. I just don’t think the girls were willing to accept a loss. So when that first set didn’t go the way we wanted it to, they decided they were going to work twice as hard.
“Our attacks were strong, and I think that’s one of the things that came through for us tonight.
“Whenever communication broke down, we had strong attacks, strong serves coming in to make up for that. And we had a lot of good coverage by our libero (McElroy) in the back row.”