By ROGER THOMAS
---- — ALBIA — The volleyball match Tuesday night in Albia was an important contest in the SCC. Davis County and Albia both went into the match with only one loss. The Mustangs prevailed over the Lady Dees 3-1, which means Davis County will finish second in the league, trailing undefeated E-B-F by just one game.
Game one was the highlight of the match. The Lady Dees and the Mustangs needed extra points to decide the opening game. Albia used a deep kill by Hannah Dustin and an ace serve by Zoee Hutt for its final two points in the 29-27 win.
Rylee Eakins got her huge night started with a block for the 1-0 Mustang lead to start the game. Eakins recorded 16 kills and nine blocks. Brooke Bettis gave the Lady Dees their first lead with a kill. With Dustin serving, Albia was able to stretch its lead to 5-1. For most of game one, the Lady Dees were able to stay in it with good all around play, but the Mustangs had the better play at the net. Eakins had three consecutive kills to keep the visitors within two at 6-4. Albia only missed one serve in the opening game. That, coupled with the problems the Mustangs had receiving serves, kept the game close.
"We didn't do a good job of serve receiving in game one and that created a lot of poor passing," said Davis County coach Marty Barnett.
A tip winner by Megan Joos pulled Davis County even at 10. A big hit off a double block by Joos and a kill by Eakins provided the Mustangs with a 15-11 lead. Later in the game, yet another Eakins' kill pushed the Mustang lead to 18-13. Bettis had a big hit off the block for a point to give Albia its first lead (25-24) since the early part of game one. An Eakins' kill even things up at 25 and, a few points later, a Kate Birchmier kill tied the score again, this time at 27. This set the stage for the last two critical points that garnered Albia the victory.
The Lady Dees stepped up their play at the net to keep game two close until the later stages. Albia again led early. Katie Dyson, who had already registered three game two blocks, had a kill at the net off an errant Mustang pass to give the Lady Dees their last lead at 17-16. Joos came through for Davis County with big hit off a double block that gave the Mustangs an 18-17 lead. She would later add a kill to the deep corner that grew DC's lead to 21-18. The teams traded side outs as Davis County closed out the 25-20 win. Eakins had a quiet game two for the visitors.
"Sometimes when we don't serve receive well, it can be a problem when Rylee is not in the rotation," said Barnett. "I think our rotations are getting stronger and we can handle that."
Davis County took the early lead in game three. Birchmier led off with an ace and, after Joos ended her serve, the Mustangs led 5-1.
Eakins kill was the fifth point, and after her next winner, the visitors led 9-4. The Eakins' winner was a perfectly placed shot — not the big hit she so often scores with.
"I've been trying to use some different shots lately," said Eakins. "It's really about reading the block and taking what they give me."
Dyson did her best to match Eakins' play at the net in game three. She would only have one kill, but she did have four big blocks. Her kill kept Albia within 19-14 and she later added two blocks. But, after the second late kill by Eakins, the Mustangs lead had ballooned to 23-16. Eakins' ace serve ended game three and gave the Davis County the 25-16 victory.
The game two and three wins saw the visitors improve their play, while the Lady Dees didn't play as well.
"I think we were more aggressive" said Barnett. "We were especially aggressive with the serve and found some spots."
"I'd agree," said Albia coach Tessa Simpson. "I think we really played well at the net and that allowed us to get to more balls and keep the ball in play longer than usual."
Game four again found the Lady Dees active at the net, but more defensively than offensively. They only had one kill but the Mustangs did register seven blocks as they tried to slow down the hitting of Eakins and Birchmier. Janelle Fenton, who was 24 for 24 serving for the Mustangs, ended a three point service run for a 7-2 Davis County lead.
Dustin and Birchmier traded kills and the Mustangs lead was whittled down to 10-7. But, another perfectly placed winner by Eakins widened the Mustang lead back to 15-10.
Birchmier played an integral role in the games' later stages. She had a kill and a block winner, back to back, and the Mustangs led 21-16. Birchmier, who was a factor at the net, also tied for the lead in digs for Davis.
"I like to get kills and blocks, but I think my play in the back row helps our passing and that sets up Rylee (Eakins)," said Birchmier. "I like playing all around and I think it helps me really get into the game.”
Eakins ended game four and the match with her final kill. The 25-19 win was the end of a well-played and hard-fought match.
"This was a good match and maybe the best all around match we've played this season," said Simpson.
Albia (12-6,2-2) has one more SCC match with Chariton and Davis County (18-12,4-1) will put on their own tournament Saturday with action starting at 9 a.m.
Davis County 27-25-25-25
Davis County Statistics
Serving — Birchmier 16-18, Joos 17-18, Fenton 24/24, Eakins 13-15, Lauren Lynch 16-17, Shelby Graves 9-9. Team —95-101 . Aces — Birchmier 3, Joos, Fenton 2, Eakins. Team — 7.
Hitting — Lynch 24-27, Graves 7-9, Fenton 4-5, Joos 33-34, Eakins 46-52, Birchmier 30-32. Team —144-159 . Kills — Lynch 2, Joos 4, Eakins 16, Birchmier 4. Team — 26.
Setting — Graves 42. Team — 51.
Blocks — Eakins 9, Birchmier 6. Team — 15.
Digs — Lynch 12, Birchmier 12. Team — 54.
Serving — Dustin 15-16, Cassie Crall 14-14, Marissa Hugen 16-16, Bettis 15-15, Hutt 7-7, Sydney Weldon 13-16, Dyson 2-2. Team — 82-86. Aces — Hugen, Bettis Hutt, Weldon. Team — 4.
Hitting — Lexi Van Polen 4-7, Maria Maddy 7-8, Weldon 18-20, Hugen 5-5, Hutt 2-3, Bettis 35-41, Dyson 24-26, Dustin 33-34. Team — 128-144. Kills — Maddy, Hugen, Bettis 5, Dyson 2, Dustin 5. Team — 14.
Setting — Weldon 15. Team — 31.
Blocks — Van Polen 5, Weldon, Bettis 2, Dyson 10, Dustin. Team — 19.
Digs — Dustin 15. Team — 42.