By Josh Brown
TIPP CITY — Troy is still finding itself without senior Lauren Freed leading the offense.
Tippecanoe is still maturing and gaining experience.
Tuesday night, both tested how far they’ve come already in the brief time they’ve had this season.
The outside-hitting tandem of sophomore Camryn Moeller and junior Miranda Silcott combined for 22 kills for Troy and Katie DeMeo was solid in the middle, while the Red Devils struggled to stay under control and in system in a three-game sweep by the Trojans, 25-16, 25-16, 25-21 Tuesday night at Tippecanoe High School.
It was Troy’s (3-0) third straight win without Freed, who was injured in the preseason. She played in the second game and even served the match-clinching point of the third game, but it was the rest of the Trojans leading the way.
“It’s a big rivalry for the girls, and we know Tipp has a good squad this year. We knew they’d be a challenge,” Troy volleyball coach Michelle Owen said. “Each day we play together without Lauren, we get better. We came out and used our strengths got the ball to our outsides and to the middle early.”
Moeller and Silcott had three kills apiece in the first game, with Moeller adding a block. DeMeo and fellow middle Drezanee Smith combined for three kills and two blocks in the first game, as well, as Troy turned a 7-5 deficit into a 12-8 lead then closed the game on a 6-0 run as the Devils struggled to pass efficiently.
“Volleyball is a very simple game. The team that controls the ball better is going to win the match,” Tippecanoe coach Howard Garcia said. “In Game 1, Troy had three unforced errors, while we had 11. In Game 2, they had seven, we had 12. In Game 3, the closest one, they had nine opposed to 11 for us.
“It’s not about who has the tallest team or the best offense — it’s about who controls the ball better. Troy was able to control the ball even when they were out of system, and we were not.”
Moeller got things started again in the second game with four kills and an ace, but then DeMeo — who hadn’t seen many sets come her way to that point — got involved. She put down five kills in the game, three in Troy’s final six points, as Troy again closed on a strong 8-3 run to put it away.
And in Game 3, Tippecanoe started out on a 3-0 run and hung tough, keeping the score tied as late as 16-16. But Silcott had four kills in the game, Moeller added two and two aces and Troy went on a 7-1 run to take a 23-17 lead.
“Camryn plays really tall for her height. She’s got a huge vertical,” Owen said. “She’s also got really good shot selection for a sophomore. She’s probably playing a little above where Lauren was when she was a sophomore. She’s really stepped up in this role. She and Miranda have brought balance to our outsides, and they’ve both played really well.
“Katie played well, too, but between her and Drezanee, we’re still not getting the kill numbers we want. Our serve receive is a reflection of that, too. We’ve got to take care of the ball more so they can get some good looks. There’s still room to grow.”
Tippecanoe (1-1) was able to fight back and go on a 4-0 run, including a pair of aces by Taylor Prall, to close the gap to 23-21, but Moeller scored a tip kill to give the serve back to Troy. Freed came in to cheers from the Trojan bench and served, and an unforced error on the play gave the win to Troy.
“Their serve receive is disciplined,” Garcia said. “Their effort is equal to ours, but since their discipline is better, they get better looks. Plus, we had seven attempts at free balls in the match, and Troy converted all of them. When you put a team on its heels, make them send something easy to you, you’ve got to do something with it.”
Moeller led Troy with 13 kills, three aces, two blocks and nine digs, Silcott added nine kills, an ace and 14 digs and DeMeo had eight kills, two aces, two blocks and two digs. Smith added three kills and a block, Payton Riley had a kill, a block and three digs, Victoria Holland had a kill, an assist and 13 digs, Freed had a dig and an assist, Dana Wynkoop had 29 assists, an ace and two digs, Katie Jackson had three assists and Kaylie Marshall had two digs.
Prall had six kills and two aces and Aubrey Cox had six kills and two blocks to lead the Devils, Alyssa Crusey had three kills, Emily Shuk had three kills and a block, Natalie Seeman had a kill and Kara Trimbach had three aces.
Troy hosts Fairmont in its home opener Thursday, while Tippecanoe faces Miamisburg Saturday.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.