Panthers rout Demons
Both the Mt. Pleasant and Washington volleyball teams emphasized fundamentals and tried to play a clean game in last night’s Southeast Conference match.
“We tried to reduce our mistakes, play as fundamentally sound as we could,” Mt. Pleasant Coach Jeff Schulz said.
It was Washington’s aim as well, but the Demons fell short — Mt. Pleasant took the match by scores of 25-10, 25-14 and 25-9, and remain undefeated so far this season.
“Our biggest struggle was our own unforced errors,” Washington Coach Julianna Berg said. “We’ve been focusing on it all week, and keep talking about the little things. But it’s not an easy thing to ... have the confidence to go out and do it in a game.”
Washington (1-7, 0-1) got the first point in the match, but the Panthers (7-0, 2-0) took the serve back on the next play.
Mt. Pleasant’s Ashley Loving aced her first serve, and the Panthers went on to take a 9-1 lead.
“We were serving aggressively, and that kept them out of their offense,” Schulz said.
Washington had just seven kills on the night. Victoria Bennett and Sydney Hoffman led the team with two apiece. Sam Mullens had four assists.
For Mt. Pleasant, Loving was a perfect 29-for-29 serving. Lydia Smith was 12-for-12 and Brianne Potts was 11-for-11. Smith had six aces and Loving served five.
“Serving’s very big; it happens every play,” Loving said. “I feel like I have one of the easiest serves — it’s a float — but it’s effective, I guess.”
Mt. Pleasant never let Washington back in the first set, sealing the win on a Kelsi Phipps kill.
Phipps came up with a team-high nine kills on the night, followed by Smith with eight. Loving had 22 assists.
Early in the second set, Mt. Pleasant was poised to run away with another game. The Panthers took an 8-0 lead to start, but Washington didn’t let this set go without a fight.
The Demons got within four points at 18-14 before the Panthers went on a seven-point run to end it.
“They find that fight, but they find it a little too late, and we struggle to battle back,” Berg said. “We have to start stronger from the beginning.”
In what would be the final set, the Panthers started strong and finished strong for their biggest win of the night.
In their second SEC victory of the season, the Panthers took an opportunity to move players into different spots on the floor.
“We tried to put our players in foreign positions,” Schulz said.
This allowed some players rest — such as starter Brianne Holtkamp, who is dealing with an injury and only played one set — and allowed other players to gain some experience in new rotations.
For the most part, the Panthers didn’t let the new set-up throw them off.
“We had a lot of different rotations, but stuck to the basics of volleyball — nothing fancy,” Loving said.
The Panthers look to improve fundamental play once again — and continue their overall and conference win streak — when they host Keokuk on Thursday.
“We still have to work on going for every ball, not letting it hit the ground,” Loving said.
Washington returns to its home court and will play Fairfield on Thursday.