Mustangs Rally To Down Hawks In Prep Volleyball
By Jeff Navin // September 7, 2012
Merritt Island remains Unbeaten
BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA – Morgan Van Alstine rescued Merritt Island at the right time as the defending Class 5A state volleyball champions were struggling on the road Thursday night in what proved to be an eventual 16-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-10 victory against Viera.
After Jessica Augustine’s kill gave Viera an 18-10 lead in the second set and an opportunity to claim the first two sets, Merritt Island coach Angie Patrick called a timeout which proved to be beneficial. Shelby Jelinek’s serve sailed long and Van Alstine blocked a spike by outside hitter Christine Moore to trigger a sequence of four consecutive blocks by Van Alstine that would whittle the deficit to 18-15.
Elaina Valencia’s spike attempt went long and Van Alstine recorded a kill to reduce it to a one-point margin at 18-17.
“She (Van Alstine) blocks really well,” said Viera coach Sarah Sykes, whose squad fell to 3-1. “We might have gotten a little too confident out there.”
Moore had a kill off a successful block for the Hawks and a wide spike attempt by Merritt Island’s Skylar Lierse pushed Viera’s lead back to 20-17. Moore’s crosscourt ace later gave Viera a 22-18 advantage.
But Van Alstine’s dink lob for a kill chopped the deficit to 22-19, and the hitter continued her fine play with six consecutive service points as the Mustangs claimed the second set to even the match.
“She (Van Alstine) changed the momentum on a couple of plays,” said Patrick, whose squad improved to 3-0. “Volleyball is a game of momentum and her play was a reflection of that. I’ve never seen Viera play so good. It’s always hard to play here.”
“Volleyball is a game of momentum and her play was a reflection of that. I’ve never seen Viera play so good. It’s always hard to play here.” Merritt Island Coach Angie Patrick
Viera, which struggled at the service line in the final two sets, had six service errors in the third set as Merritt Island prevailed 25-17.
“Serving is everything – serving and passing is the key to volleyball,” said Sykes, whose team went 20-6 last season and won its first district title.
“We didn’t execute either one really well. This match gives us a baseline.
“We need to know the specifics of what we need to work on. The end of the year is what matters,” she said.
Barring a rematch in a regular-season tournament in Orlando later this season, the two teams likely will not play again. This gives Merritt Island the upper hand in the race for the Cape Coast Conference title.
“This match was what we anticipated,” Patrick said. “It would have been fun and and it would have been better to play at the end of the year. It was a great test and we rose to the occasion. We accomplished what we wanted to do.”
Merritt Island won 16 of the final 17 points in the fourth set to end the match. A mishit by Merritt Island and a successful lob shot by Alisha Bland enabled Viera to tie the set at 9-9 before Merritt Island regained serve on another service error by the Hawks.
Halle Dotson’s block, Becca Bower’s kill, a mishit at the net by Viera and another kill by Bower triggered four consecutive service points by Danielle Klein as the Mustangs forged a 14-9 advantage. Bland’s lob shot broke serve, but Viera lost serve once again as an offering went long.
Bower closed out the match with 10 consecutive service points. Klein recorded a successful lob, Bower placed an ace on the left side, Viera hit a shot wide and another shot into a block, Dotson posted a block and a crosscourt kill on consecutive points and Klein’s twisting, two-handed maneuver pushed the margin to 22-10.
Lierse’s kill, an ace by Bower and Olivia Flack’s lob for a kill ended the match.
In the first set, Viera forged a 9-3 lead as Van Alstine hit a lob wide and Valencia with her left-handed serve recorded three consecutive service points on a block, a kill by Moore and a long spike attempt by Van Alstine, who then recorded a kill to break serve.
A carry by Merritt Island, a wide spike by Van Alstine, an ace by Sydney Coman and Alex Bynum’s block extended Viera’s lead to 17-11 before Patrick called a timeout. Augustine had a kill and Klein’s spinning shot fell into the net as the Hawks extended their lead to 19-11.
Substitute and serving specialist Taylor Slentz closed out the set with an ace as Viera won the first set 25-16.