By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy volleyball coach Michelle Owen expected the rocky start.
“We had a terrible practice yesterday. The worst we’ve had all season,” she said. “I anticipated that it would probably bleed in a little tonight, and that’s what happened in Game 1.”
After the first 20 matches this season, what followed wasn’t a surprise, either.
The Trojans bounced back after dropping the first set of Tuesday’s Greater Western Ohio Conference Tournament semifinal matchup against Centerville, with big guns Lauren Freed and Katie DeMeo leading the way to a 27-29, 25-14, 25-16, 25-16 victory over the Elks at the Trojans Activities Center to run Troy’s undefeated record to 21-0 on the season.
Freed finished the match with 22 kills, 23 digs, an ace and two blocks and DeMeo added 16 kills, four blocks and an ace as the Trojans turned a competitive first set into a rout.
“They have to be able to produce those numbers as we move on in the tournament,” Owen said of Freed and DeMeo. “We set individual goals for everyone, and for them tonight it was 16 kills each. Both of them got there. Now we need to get the rest of our personnel up to that level and producing their goals every night.”
It was also a first glimpse into what Troy may face during its postseason run. One of Centerville’s (13-8) losses this season was a 25-17, 25-18, 25-20 defeat at the hands of St. Ursula — a potential district final opponent, should the Trojans win the sectional title.
Troy began the match strong, not making any mistakes and allowing the Elks to make them to pull ahead 13-5 thanks to a five-point service run by Camryn Moeller. At 15-8, though, Centerville began to turn it around, putting down kills that had missed wide or long early and blocking the Trojans’ best hitters at the net. Centerville won 12 of 15 points — including a five-point service run by Caroline Ferderinko — to go up 17-16.
Troy had game point at 24-23, but a kill by Federinko tied things up. Centerville fought off one more game point, then kills by Freed and DeMeo each erased an Elk game point to make the score 27-27. A kill by Emily Harnen and an error later, Centerville celebrated the Game 1 win.
“We came out just expecting to pull ourselves out of how we played in practice yesterday,” Owen said. “But it doesn’t work that way. It takes effort. And we missed a lot of serves, too. We tell the girls to be aggressive, and if an aggressive serve misses, then that’s a risk I’m willing to take. But we can’t be hitting floaters and missing those, too. We can’t be giving a team like Centerville those points.”
Freed led the Trojans with six kills in the set, while Katie Kaminski had six kills, two blocks and an ace to lead the Elk comeback.
Centerville grabbed an early 6-3 lead in Game 2, but the Trojans didn’t allow them to win consecutive points from then on. Troy slowly evened up the game 12-12, then a four-point run by Miranda Silcott later made it 20-13. DeMeo finished the game with another four-point run, and Silcott closed it out with a kill from the back row.
DeMeo led the Trojans with six kills and an ace in the set, Freed had four kills and an ace and Silcott added three kills as Troy cut its service errors from five in the first set to only two in the second, dominating play from the start with its serve, its serve receive and its defense.
“Going into Game 2, we told the girls that we just had to serve and block, and that’s what we did,” Owen said. “They were getting blocks on Katie in the first set, so we made some adjustments and talked about some things to open her up. That, and Centerville mixed its lineup up a lot throughout the match, and that went to our advantage because weaker blockers would end up on Katie. And that’s a matchup I’ll gladly take.”
Game 3 was more back and forth than the second one, but four-point and three-point runs by Silcott — including back-to-back aces at one point — helped Troy build a 22-14 lead after the Elks had been as close as 18-14. Back-to-back kills by DeMeo and Freed gave Troy set point, and one point later Freed put it away to put the Trojans one set away from playing in Thursday’s GWOC Tournament final.
“Miranda does that throughout the season. She’ll have nights where she comes up with some key runs while serving,” Owen said. “And Camryn had been focusing on her service and receiving game lately. Her kill numbers weren’t as high as we’d like them to be tonight, but all of her other numbers were good.”
Troy led from start to finish in Game 4, also, with Dana Wynkoop serving the first three points and the team building an early 8-3 lead. Centerville got back to within three at 13-10, but a kill by Freed and an ace by Victoria Holland kicked off a run that made it 17-11 Troy, and the Trojans never looked back.
“Each set, our passing just got progressively better,” Owen said. “And that kind of went with how Centerville’s game progressed, too. They were tired by Game 4. Serves that were tough in that first set were easy for us to handle, and that allowed us to have the ball control we needed.”
Silcott finished with six kills, three aces, 11 digs and a block, Moeller had five kills, four aces, 13 digs and three blocks and Wynkoop had 45 assists, an ace, four digs and a block. Drezanee Smith added two kills, three digs and five blocks and Holland had 19 digs and two aces.
Troy hosts Beavercreek — which the Trojans swept in the final game of the regular season on the road — in Thursday’s GWOC Tournament championship match.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.