By Josh Brown
TROY — With Troy far behind in the first set Saturday, one substitution seemed to make a difference.
And even though the Trojans still dropped that game despite a strong rally, their big guns continued to wear down Miami East for the rest of the match — and the Vikings couldn’t figure out how to regain the momentum once it began to slip away.
Miranda Silcott’s serve gave the Trojans a boost off the bench, Lauren Freed and Katie DeMeo kept swinging until they found room to put balls down and Troy (6-0) ended a three-game losing streak to inter-county rival Miami East Saturday, dropping the first set but winning the next three 22-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-20 at the Trojan Acvtities Center.
“This was one we wanted, and we knew it was going to be a battle,” Troy volleyball coach Michelle Owen said. “We had to fight against Northmont earlier this week, we had to fight here. But the goal was to be 6-0 at the end of August, and we’re 6-0.”
Still, the Trojans started slow, falling behind 18-10 in the first set as the Vikings rode the strength of freshman duo Jonni Parker and Kyndall Hellyer.
“At the beginning, we executed our gameplan well, took out their big hitters that we needed to slow down,” Miami East coach Don Wood said. “But as the match wore on, we got a bit tired and our discipline started to break.”
“Our first sets haven’t been great this season,” Owen said. “Even against West Carrollton on Thursday, we gave up 18 points. Our other two sets were 25-9 and 25-6 that night. I don’t know if it just takes a while to kickstart our motor or what. But we got some momentum near the end of it, pushed through but still lost it, then we got the momentum early the rest of the match.”
What helped Troy regain its footing in the first set was the play of sophomore Silcott, who scored a kill on her first point on the floor. With the Vikings up 18-10, the Trojans scored to get the serve back, and Silcott served the next six straight points — including an ace to end the run and get Troy to within 18-17. But Parker scored a pair of kills and the Vikings won five of the next six points, eventually closing out the first set. Parker and Hellyer combined for nine kills and a block in that game.
DeMeo served five straight points to give Troy an early 7-3 edge in the second game, and Troy led 12-7 before a five-point service run by Anna Kiesewetter gave the Vikings a 13-12 lead. DeMeo scored two kills in a four-point Troy run, though, and Silcott served the final seven points of the game, along with a trio of aces, and Freed put down a kill to finish the game 25-17.
“We served tough today, with 12 aces,” Owen said. “Miranda went in and was a difference maker right away. For her to go in and contribute right away like she did, I was really happy for her.”
“We’ve been talking about energy, about when we’re not doing well how to bring it back up,” Wood said. “We’ve been struggling with that all year. I think we let their fans get to us a little, and it’s a struggle to get your energy up because when we’re making errors like we were, we gave up long strings of points.
“(Troy) got fired up and took hard, aggressive swings. With their energy level the way it was and their willingness to swing away even when they were making errors … I think we got a little tentative after we started making errors.”
DeMeo served Troy out to a 10-3 lead in the third game with a seven-point run — a run that included two kills each by Freed and Ashton Riley. But Freed dominated the rest of the game, piling up eight kills and keeping the Vikings from chipping into the lead. And in the fourth game, DeMeo put down four kills — including the final point of the match.
Freed had 19 kills, five aces, 18 digs and four blocks to lead the way for Troy, DeMeo had 11 kills, seven digs and two blocks, Riley had nine kills, nine digs and four blocks and Silcott had five aces, four kills and 11 digs.
“Lauren’s jump serve was consistent. It was the exact same from games one through four — and East just couldn’t keep up with it,” Owen said. “We’re used to the environment in here, so for us to not worry about having to try to pass Jonni’s topspin serve, that was a huge advantage for us.
“And Lauren hit 42 percent today. That was huge. Against West Carrollton, she had nine kills and five errors — that was a slow tempo match, and she was still making mistakes. I told her she needs to get her kills up and eliminate errors, and she did all of that today.”
“Those serves are just hard to play, those flat, aggressive serves,” Wood said. “You have to make a decision in about half a second, and it has to be the right one. I don’t think we did a great job when we had good passes, and when they had free balls off of our returns, they executed well.”
Parker finished with 11 kills and a block, Hellyer had seven kills, three blocks and an ace to lead the Vikings (1-4), who host Mississinawa Valley on Thursday. Troy, meanwhile, hosts Springboro the same night.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.