BETHANY — Volleyball is a sport that can bring people to their knees—in an attempt to dig a ball and continue a rally, to show the joy of victory or even the frustration of a narrow defeat—and each of those reasons were on display in Okaw Valley’s non-conference contest against Arthur Okaw Christian.
The Timberwolves won 25-18, 25-22 on the strength of seven kills, a pair of aces and blocks from sophomore middle hitter Kate Jeffers and four kills from junior Bella Benning.
“The last few games our hitting has been a little off, but tonight we really got into a groove,” Okaw Valley head coach Sarah McDowell explained. “Our underclassman hitters really came through tonight. Kate Jeffers really stepped up tonight and played well on both sides of the floor. We expect a lot out of her and she delivers every night.”
On the other side of the court, AOC was led by Lillian Messmore who downed nine kils—including six in the second set—and blocked three balls on the night as well.
Early on in both sets—at six points in the first and at eight points in the second—the game was tied, but in both sets, Okaw Valley took advantage of some long hits and misplaced serves to extend the lead.
“Our motto this year is be momentum breakers and momentum takers,” McDowell stated. “I think that was definitely our mindset tonight—we went into the game with the mindset of not playing to 25, but playing to one, to two and to three points and so on, and it paid off in the end.”
After the tie in the first set, Okaw Valley fed off twenty unforced errors—both in the attack and serving—by the Conquering Riders en route to their seven-point first set victory.
Even though it looked like it at first, the story of the second set would not be the same as the first.
AOC came out firing in the second set and Katie Brandt downed a kill as did Messmore—who added her first block right after—but then the mistakes began to pile up again. Messmore’s second kill of the set was bookended by errors for the Conquering Riders.
Thanks to the missed chances by Arthur Okaw Christian, and an ace from Okaw Valley’s Paige Coleman that found its way just inside the back, right corner of the court for the Timberwolves.
After the ensuing timeout for AOC, the Timberwolves came out on fire.
Coleman added three more aces to highlight the scoring for Okaw Valley as part of 5-0 run to stretch the lead to at the time what felt like an insurmountable seven-point, 16-9 advantage.
Then Okaw Valley gave their fans a scare.
After adding two more points to the lead, Okaw Valley committed eight errors, while only scoring eight points which pushed the match to 24-22, after an ace by Lyla Kauffman for AOC.
However, after the ace, the Conquering Riders got the ball to Messmore in the middle, but the lanky hitter went just barely wide to the right side of the court, dropping to her knees in disbelief, and the Timberwolves pulled out the victory.
Okaw Valley plays Villa Grove in a conference matchup in Bethany, Thursday at 7:30 p.m.