By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
CASSTOWN — The Troy volleyball team hadn’t needed to lean on its big guns in its first two matches of the season.
After dropping the first set to Miami East, though, the Trojans turned Lauren Schmitz loose.
The senior and reigning Greater Western Ohio Conference American League Athlete of the Year had a match-high 17 kills and six aces, stringing together big runs in each of the last three sets to lead Troy to a 3-1 victory over non-league rival Vikings Saturday, with the Trojans winning 17-25, 25-21, 25-14, 25-16 at Miami East High School.
Schmitz also finished with a team-high 17 digs, a pair of blocks and an assist, doing a little bit of everything to ensure Troy remained undefeated at 3-0 and won against its toughest opponent yet.
“Lauren played like she was the returning Player of the Year today,” Troy coach Michelle Owen said. “Set One when we were really struggling, she stepped up and said she’d be the person to lead this team, get them calmed down and get them back into the match. And really, all day, she was the person that kept us together, was the glue, the person the rest of the girls could look to and scored points when we needed them.”
The Vikings (1-3) took control in the first set, though, leading it from start to finish. Sophie Jacomet had five kills and Nichole Hood had four kills and an ace during the set, and while Troy was able to cut the lead to one at 13-12, Jacomet hit a kill and then served four straight points to put it out of reach.
“In the first set, we were passing the ball well in serve receive, hitting our spots when serving and were pretty limited in our mistakes,” Miami East coach Dan Peterson said. “After that, their serving got a little more aggressive and took us out of system. That was what really turned the tide — their serve was a lot tougher, and our serve receive wasn’t as good as it need to be after the first.”
And a lot of that tough serving came from Schmitz.
A six-point run by Schmitz that included two aces staked Troy out to a 13-5 lead, but Gretchen Frock served up a six-point run of her own to give the Vikings the lead at 16-15. A kill from the back row by Schmitz and an ace dropped on the back line by Morgan Baber gave control back to the Trojans, and though the Vikings tied the set again at 18-18, Schmitz and Kate Orban had a pair of kills each to help Troy close it out and even up the match at 1-1.
“I was proud of the girls, proud of them for answering,” Owen said. “We struggled a little in Set Two, also, and we could have rolled over and let them take it, too, but we didn’t. We pushed back, closed that set out, and Lauren was a big key to that.”
Schmitz then served a five-point run in the third set that gave Troy a 12-3 lead and East didn’t get closer than six points from there, then another six-point run by Schmitz in the fourth gave the Trojans a 16-5 lead, and the margin didn’t go below six again.
“Lauren served a really complete game,” Owen said. “She finished with six aces, and she served 28 balls. The next closest person served 15 — that’s almost double what anyone else served. She didn’t miss, and she was really putting the pressure on Miami East. She put the ball everywhere I wanted her to put it, and when she didn’t ace them, it was an aggressive serve that got them out of system.”
After Schmitz’s big day, Orban added a season-high 11 kills, five digs and two blocks, Brianna Slusher had six kills, a dig and five blocks, Carly Pfieffer had four kills and seven blocks, Hallie Westmeyer had three kills, two digs and a block and Anna Boezi had two kills, two digs and three blocks.
Baber dished out 33 assists and added three kills, two aces, 10 digs and a block, Emmie Jackson had 15 digs and three assists, Morgan Kaiser had four assists, Brennah Hutchinson had six digs and an assist, Genna Coleman had three digs and an ace and Ella Furlong had three digs.
“They have a very deep roster with eight or nine seniors, and it shows,” Peterson said. “We controlled that first set, and a lot of younger teams might let that affect them going into the second and third. But they didn’t let it bother them. And that’s a credit to their seniors and Michelle — we have a lot of respect for them and what they do, so we weren’t really surprised to see them rally back.”
Things won’t get easier for Miami East before they enter conference play — the Vikings take on CHCA Monday.
“We don’t shy away from good teams,” Peterson said. “You want to find out where you’re at and what you can improve on. We know what we did well and what we didn’t, so we’ll take it. We’ve got another tough match on Monday at CHCA. And it always looks good on your tournament resume when you play a good team like Troy.”
Troy, meanwhile, will go back to Miami Valley League play all next week, with matches at Xenia Monday then at home against Fairborn Tuesday and Butler Thursday.
“It was fun today,” Owen said. “We were really looking forward to this match. I think the girls were nervous, too. It’s different when you’re playing in a big match like this. But these are the fun ones. These are the ones we want to play in. Miami East has a great program and great players, and we were excited to play this one — and we knew they would come out fired up, too.”
But no one was firing like Schmitz was Saturday.
“They just really didn’t have an answer for her all day,” Owen said. “And she showed today why she’s one of the best players in the area.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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