By Josh Brown
VANDALIA — An undefeated team that already has a lot of weapons, Troy had its biggest gun on display for the first time this season Tuesday night.
Plus a little luck, to boot — literally.
Reigning two-time Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division Player of the Year Lauren Freed got her first start at her normal outside hitter position after working her way back from a preseason injury, an early save off the foot of middle hitter Katie DeMeo gave the Trojans an added boost and the Troy volleyball team won its 15th straight to start the season, sweeping division rival Butler in dominant fashion, 25-16, 25-14, 25-16.
Freed, who did play some front row in a win against Versailles earlier this season but has mainly been playing libero while on the road back, showed no signs of lingering effects on the court, putting all of her tools on display. She put down kills from the back row and played solid defense in addition to her vicious hitting, and while she didn’t use her jump serve, she didn’t necessarily need to. She finished the match with 13 kills and three aces — both team-high totals — and 13 digs.
“I’ve been sitting and waiting all season. It felt great, finally being able to play a full match at the position I’ve played the last three years,” Freed said. And after the match was over, when asked how her injured ankle felt, she said, “it feels completely fine, honestly. Like it never happened.”
It was a nice welcome back party for her, and a good, solid performance all around,” Troy coach Michelle Owen said. “She was excited to get back, and she definitely looked like the best player in the gym, in all aspects of play, too. She put all the skills she’s got to use and kept Butler guessing all night.”
And with the rest Troy’s (15-0, 3-0 GWOC North) weapons stepping up their games in Freed’s absence, the Trojans truly looked like a team with everything in place.
DeMeo continued her strong play in the middle with 11 kills, four blocks and four digs, and outsides Miranda Silcott (nine kills, four blocks, one assist and 12 digs) and Camryn Moeller (six kills and seven digs) and middle Drezanee Smith (five kills, one block and five digs) gave Troy a wealth of options to choose from — and made sure the Aviators (5-8, 2-1 GWOC North) had too much to worry about to be able to defend everything.
“It felt like we were really clicking tonight,” Freed said. “Offensively, they just couldn’t stop us.”
And Victoria Holland, who had played in the front row while Freed recovered at libero, moved back to the libero position and had a terrific night, too. She led the team with 15 digs and added two assists and an ace, going on lengthy service runs in each game that helped the Trojans put distance between them and the Aviators.
Setter Dana Wynkoop benefited from it all, dishing out 33 assists and adding five digs and three aces. Katie Jackson had three assists and a kill, Payton Riley had a block and Kaylie Marshall had two digs.
And early on, it became clear that everything was just going to go Troy’s way.
With the Trojans already leading 9-3 in Game 1, But;er hit a shot that, after Troy’s first contact, looked like it was headed under the net. But DeMeo instinctively kicked her foot out at the ball as it went by, hitting it up in the air just enough for a teammate to send it back over on third contact.
“It was just kind of my first instinct, to stick my foot out,” DeMeo said. “We actually do it in practice all the time. We just never get to use it in a match — and have it work, at least.”
The Trojans rapidly reset defensively, and DeMeo and Silcott combined on a block that forced the stunned Aviators to call timeout to try to slow the momentum.
It didn’t work.
“That play just got us hyped up for the rest of the match,” DeMeo said. “After a save like that, and to win the point, too, everyone was fired up.”
“It’s just fun,” Owen said. “We already had momentum, and that just added to it. It’s just a crazy hustle play, a luck play, really. But it is a skill, too. It’s something we actually practice. It was just a stand-out play.”
Troy built a 13-3 lead as Holland finished off the six-point service run, and the Trojans led by as many as 12 at 19-7 before closing out the game.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t the first time the Trojans have used a kicked ball in such a way at Butler’s Student Activities Center.
“Two years ago when we played here, Ashton Riley did the same thing,” Owen said. “And we won that point, too. And she was here watching, which was fitting. The girls all looked at her in the crowd and were like, ‘Hey Ashton!’”
“It’s just what we do here, I guess. Kick the ball,” Freed said, laughing.
A five-point service run by Wynkoop to start the second game and another five-point run by Holland put Troy up 2-0, and a four-point run by Freed and five-point run by Holland in the third made it 14-5 and sealed the match.
DeMeo finished all three games with a kill on the final point, and Troy celebrated its 15th straight win.
The Trojans have two more GWOC North matches — at home against Sidney Thursday and Piqua on Sept. 29 — before finishing the regular season at Beavercreek Oct. 1.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.