By Josh Brown
TROY — A week after seeing time in the front row for the first time all season, Lauren Freed wanted another chance.
As it turned out, the Trojans’ senior captain — who has been fighting her way back from a preseason injury all year — was just as dangerous as ever on the service line.
Not even utilizing her devastating jump serve, Freed served 10 consecutive points in Game 1 and went on a 15-point service run in Game 2, and even though she was shut down without getting on a roll in the third game, she rotated back in just in time to fittingly serve up an ace on match point as the undefeated Troy volleyball team swept Greenville 25-8, 25-3, 25-16 Tuesday in both teams’ Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division opener.
“They just couldn’t handle serve receive. Lauren did a great job,” Troy coach Michelle Owen said. “She wanted to play the front row tonight, but we told her that we didn’t need to take any unnecessary risks. It gave her a chance to be creative with her service game and get us points from the service line. And that’s exactly what she did. It shows how versatile she is.
“That’s what makes a Player of the Year.”
Freed, the reigning two-time GWOC North Player of the Year, finished the match with a whopping 13 aces and eight digs, but she contributed more than even those numbers show. The Green Wave (0-12, 0-1 GWOC North) could not figure out her serve as she picked the receivers apart. Often, the ball would drop after a second touch, and every once in a while Greenville would find a way to send it back over in three — and Freed was right there to serve up an easy ball for her setters, Dana Wynkoop and Katie Jackson, to send up for middle Katie DeMeo.
“She can do a lot more than just hit. That’s just what everyone remembers,” Owen said. “Everything she’s brought to our team, even as a libero, is huge. Her ball control is so important to us. Her great first contact, mixed with Dana and Katie’s sets, made it easy for Katie tonight. It’s important for Lauren to show that versatility.”
Important because her closest competition in the Player of the Year race may just be at the other end of those passes in DeMeo.
The junior middle had 11 kills, two aces, three blocks and a dig in only the first two games Tuesday night as the Trojans substituted liberally after routing the Wave in the first two games in less than a half hour. In fact, DeMeo missed one, maybe two chances to put balls away, hitting with brutal efficiency.
“Katie (DeMeo) played really, really well tonight,” Owen said. “Dana and Katie (Jackson) both did a nice job getting her the ball, and she dominated. And she needs to be dominant against these division opponents we’ll be seeing over the next couple of weeks.
“When it comes to Player of the Year, though, I’ve got to look at Lauren’s body of work over her four years and compare that to everyone else in the division and the GWOC, and I’d give it to her every time.”
Not to worry — Freed might have been a three-time winner coming into this year, but for her freshman year being Jenna Selby’s big senior season. And with DeMeo being a junior, no matter how the race goes this year, she’s just adding to her already-impressive body of work.
They certainly weren’t the only Trojans contributing in Tuesday’s match, either. Victoria Holland had six kills — five in the third game — two aces and five digs, Miranda Silcott was consistent all night with six kills, an ace, a block and three digs, Camryn Moeller added three kills, a block and a dig and Drezanee Smith had three kills.
Wynkoop, the Trojans’ regular starting setter, finished with 12 assists and a dig, Jackson came in and had nine assists to go with a kill, four aces and two digs and Emily Brinkman had five assists and a dig. Kaylie Marshall also had an assist and four digs, Payton Riley had two digs and Kylie Brooks had a kill.
The Trojans matched their winning streak to start last season, as well, winning their 13th straight. Last season, Troy began with 13 straight wins, only to see that streak end at the hands of Versailles — which the Trojans beat in five a week ago Tuesday.
Troy, now 13-0 and 1-0 in the GWOC North, travels to Trotwood Thursday looking to keep the run going.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.