By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
CENTERVILLE — At some point in the third set of Wednesday’s tournament match against West Carrollton, Troy’s Kate Orban noticed something a bit unusual.
“Kate actually looked over at one point and said ‘I’m the only senior on the court!’” Troy volleyball coach Michelle Owen said.
And while that’s not something that the senior-laden Trojans have been able to pull off often this season, they certainly made it work for them Wednesday night as the entire team of 15 players got involved in No. 2-seeded Troy’s 25-5, 25-6, 25-10 sweep of No. 19 West Carrollton in the second round of the Division I sectional tournament at Centerville High School.
“Everybody got to play, which is always the goal,” Owen said. “If we can get some of these young kids in, that’s always good. That was kind of cool for me to look out (in the third set) and say I actually have a young team out there right now, kids that are going to be around next year. It was unlike what we usually have on the court where we’re senior heavy.
“It’s nice to look out and see young faces and kind of see what our future will look like next year. That was exciting for us.”
It was the third time the Trojans (21-2) faced Miami Valley League foe West Carrollton (2-19) this season, with Troy winning all three meetings. Troy allowed only 30 and 32 points in the first two matchups, improving even on that in the tournament match.
The Pirates did actually hold the lead early, though, at 2-1 in the first set and had the score tied at 3-3 before Troy went on two lengthy service runs to outscore them 22-2 the rest of the set.
“Our first three balls that we passed were pretty awful — but we obviously cleaned some stuff up after those first three passes,” Owen said with a smile. “We did start a little sluggish, and our warm-up wasn’t very good, either. We did come out a little flat in our warm-up, but after that, obviously, we did pick it up.”
After an Anna Boezi kill, Emmie Jackson served seven straight, including two aces, to take the score to 11-3. Then a Brianna Slusher kill gave the serve to Genna Coleman, who served eight straight with three aces to make it 20-4, and Troy closed it out from there.
That trend of service runs continued in the second set as Morgan Baber ripped off four aces and served the Trojans out to a 9-0 lead and Jackson later served five straight to help Troy take a 2-0 lead.
“Serving has been our strength this season,” Owen said. “We have a lot of kids that lead the MVL in aces, so for us to continue that in the postseason is going to be really important. We placed emphasis on that early this year, as opposed to last year where we did that late in the season. We wanted to switch gears this season, and I think it’s really paid off. Statistically, we’ve shown that we’re a dominant serving team this season.”
Emily Huber then had a nine-point run to begin the third set, including an ace, to stake the Trojans out to a 10-0 lead, and the Trojans coasted to the win.
Baber, the team’s setter, did a bit of everything to lead the way on the night, serving up five of Troy’s 15 aces as a team and adding four kills, 17 assists, two digs and a block.
“Morgan did a great job of spreading the ball out tonight and got a lot of people involved,” Owen said. “And (in the second match this season) against Tipp, she had seven kills. She’s really come on to that in the last third of the season. She’s gotten good at reading the blocker and knowing when to be aggressive. Really, it’s one of the big reasons why we beat Tipp that second time.”
And even when West Carrollton was able to dig up Troy’s shots, the Trojans simply reset and fired again, with nine different players tallying at least one kill — and also nine different players passing out at least one assist.
“We did a good job of, even when they’d send something slightly more aggressive, staying in system and sending something back as aggressive as our previous shot or more,” Owen said. “We did a good job of mixing up where we hit and hitting where they weren’t, and Lauren (Schmitz) did a good job of going off-speed or throws to the corner — things she’ll need to do as we progress to the next level in the tournament.”
Schmitz led the way with nine kills, five digs and two assists, Slusher had seven kills, three blocks, two assists and a dig, Orban had seven kills, six digs, a block and an assist, Boezi had three kills, Hallie Westmeyer had two kills and a block, Carly Pfieffer had one kill, one block and one dig and Amber Poore had one kill and one dig.
Huber added a kill to go with five assists, two aces and a dig, Jackson had seven digs, three aces and an assist, Brennah Hutchinson had six digs, Ella Curcio had four assists and two digs, Coleman finished with four aces, three digs and an assist, Ella Furlong had two digs and an assist and Andrea Prenger had an ace and a dig.
Now Troy will face a familiar opponent in the district semifinal match — No. 8 Beavercreek, which defeated No. 10 Fairmont in Wednesday’s late match. The Trojans beat the Beavers in three back on Sept. 28, and two years ago, Troy beat Beavercreek in four at Centerville to reach the first of back-to-back district finals — and now the Trojans will be aiming for its third straight trip.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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