By Josh Brown
BEAVERCREEK — Troy volleyball coach Michelle Owen and Beavercreek coach Tim Green can agree on one thing.
“Forget Mondays. Like (Green) said, let’s never play this match on a Monday again,” Owen said.
In a rematch of last year’s Division I sectional final, a matchup that year in and year out has become one of the better crossover rivalries in the Greater Western Ohio Conference, the Trojans went to Beavercreek Monday night and played their worst match of the season thus far, while the Beavers put everything together and swept Troy 25-14, 25-10, 25-21.
During the regular season last year, Troy (6-3) was no challenged and swept Beavercreek (9-2) at Troy on a Monday night then went on to defeat the Beavers in four in the sectional final. Since 2010, they are the only two matches that have been played on Mondays.
“They came up to our place last year and played terrible, and then we come down here this year and are awful,” Owen said. “They were so bad last year, and it was the complete opposite this year. He said ‘We need to quit having this game on Monday,’ and I said ‘You’re right, we really do. Let’s play it on a Saturday or something.’”
“Troy has got a really nice team, got some really nice arms, good athletes, they’re a really physical team, and we definitely know they can play better than they showed tonight, that’s for sure,” he said. “We kind of had a similar thing happen to us last year when we went up to their place. We played on a Monday and … I kind of know that they’re definitely better than they showed tonight.”
The Trojans are in the middle of one of their toughest stretches in years, having lost three of their last four for the first time since 2013. And while Troy has matches at Fairborn Tuesday and against Stebbins Thursday coming up this week, Saturday they will host reigning D-III state champion Versailles.
“We’ve got a lot of film to watch in preparation for Saturday,” Owen said. “Hopefully we can set some goals in these matches this week that we can work on, some fundamental concepts that we need to get back to. That’s kind of our goal.”
Beavercreek, meanwhile, is just getting into its tough stretch. After losing to Centerville in four and defeating Oakwood and not Troy, the Beavers travel to 5-3 Lebanon Tuesday and host 8-2 Miamisburg Thursday.
“We had a really good practice yesterday, and we’ve been playing really well,” Green said. “We had a tough match at Centerville, lost in four, but I thought we played pretty well. It was a good momentum builder for us feeding into tonight’s match. We’ve got a tough stretch coming up with Troy tonight, Lebanon tomorrow and Miamisburg Thursday. We’ve improved a ton since the beginning of the season, and I think it showed tonight.”
Monday’s matchup seemed like it should be an even one coming in — Troy’s loss to Centerville came in four games, as well, after all. But Beavercreek jumped out to an 8-2 lead and steadily pulled away in the first set, then the Beavers never allowed the Trojans to win back-to-back points in the second to take a 2-0 lead.
“I scouted them, and I was watching them thinking that we matched up well with them,” Owen said. “When they’re on, they look good. They pass well, they hit well, but defensively I thought that our personnel matched up well with theirs. And then coming out tonight, you would never know that. It was this lopsided match, and just like all of our other big games this year, we came out slow. It took us a game and a half to figure out that we even knew how to play. It’s frustrating.
“Every aspect of our game, I feel like we can’t put the pieces together. We’ll have these solid passes and then we make a hitting error, or we’ll go on a serving run then have a hitting or blocking error. We’ll have somebody play great one game and then play terrible the next. With all of the pieces, we can’t consistently put them together.”
Troy finally showed it could be competitive in the third set, jumping out to a 4-1 lead — its first of the match — and still holding a 5-3 lead before a kill by Abby Hack led to a six-point service run by Ashley Skaggs to put the Beavers up 10-5. At 17-12, the Trojans fought back again, with Kate Orban putting down a kill and then serving four straight points, including an ace, to tie the score at 17-17. But with Beavercreek up 19-18, a Troy service error and then back-to-back long rallies that ended in Troy errors proved to be the difference in the set.
Anna Shoemake had 10 kills and two aces and Lauren Goenaga-Lask had seven kills, two aces and a block to lead the Beaver offense. Hack added four kills and a block, Grace Phillips had two kills and three aces, Kirsten Williams had four kills, Skaggs had three aces and setter Kayla Vonder Embse added a kill.
And even though it avenged a sectional final loss from last year, Green wasn’t ready to declare the team district-bound yet.
“I think it’s too early to say really, but I think it shows how much we’ve improved,” he said. “If you look at that match versus our first of the season, it shows how much we’ve improved — and also how much we still can improve. It’s a little too early for that, I’d say.”
For Troy, Lauren Schmitz led the way with 11 kills and a block, Carly Pfeiffer had a kill, Gabbi Johnson had two kills, setter Morgan Baber had two kills and a block, Orban had a kill, an ace and a block, Brianna Slusher had a kill and a block, Hallie Westmeyer had a kill and Brennah Hutchinson had an ace.
The match left the Trojans looking at ways they could improve, too.
“Our girls really just have to find an identity as a group right now,” Owen said. “That’s kind of what we’re lacking. I feel like they’re complacent with where they’re at. We’ve been there and done these things, won the league titles, sectional titles, but if these girls want to get back to those games — whether it’s the district final or the league title game against Tipp — to have a shot at that, they’ve got to do the little things better. We can’t just keep coming out in Set 1 like we just rolled out of bed.”
Since 2005, the rivalry between the two teams is now even at 8-8, with four of those matches going five sets and 10 ending in sweeps.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.