By ROGER THOMAS
---- — MEDIAPOLIS — The Davis County Mustang volleyball team piled on the bus, rode 95 miles and squared off with once rated Mediapolis on its home floor Thursday night in second round regional volleyball action. The Mustangs fought the Bullettes tooth and nail for every point in the match but, in the end, dropped the hard-fought match 3-0. The 25-22, 25-18, and 25-23 scores showed just how evenly matched the two teams were.
With Megan Joos serving, Davis County would run out to an early 5-1 lead. The early Mustang lead would be a common theme in every game. Two big hits by Rylee Eakins kept the Mustangs up 7-3. Mediapolis would slowly use their hitting to get the game back to even. Eakins and Kate Birchmier were just outnumbered at the net, as five different Bullettes had kills in game one. Mediapolis finally tied it at 10. Birchmier's kill gave the lead back to DC and, after Eakins answered three kills by Bullette Rachel Holsteen with three of her own, the Mustangs led 18-16.
Game one would be close until the final point. One critical point came with the Mustangs trailing 23-22. One linesman flag went up and one went down and after the Mustangs were denied the touch call, DC was down 24-22 instead of tied at 23. One call doesn't lose a game and certainly not a match but, had that point been different, it might have had an effect on the night's play.
Game two had Mediapolis up early 5-2 before the Mustangs came roaring back with Eakins serving to take the lead at 7-5. The Mustangs' lead was at 13-12 — Joos had two midgame kills to help hold the lead. Eakins had two big hits to keep the Mustangs within striking distance at 17-15, but then the Bullettes outscored Davis County 8-3 to close out the match.
Davis County's pre pre-game warm-up included taping an ankle of one of their starters. Lauren Lynch didn't miss a beat as she and her teammates battled Mediapolis.
“I think it bothered our offense a little because we couldn't set her as much,” said Davis County coach Marty Barnett.
Starting game three is not a time to make switches in your game plan and that's exactly how Barnett explained it.
“Different game plans or schemes at this time of the year really doesn't help,” said Barnett. “You have to play like you have all season – just a little better."
Again, the visiting Mustangs grabbed an early lead and forced a Mediapolis timeout. Joos had a six-point service run (two aces) that gave the Mustangs a 7-1 lead. Eakins had two big kills in the early going. It took Bullettes longer to get back to even in the third game, but they took control late and then held on to win.
“I think their over-all quickness and quicks at the net were hard for us to adjust to,” said Barnett. "It's just hard to get the block in that situation”.
The Mustangs would have no blocks in the final game. Eakins kill to the deep corner kept DC up 9-3. DC would lead by seven twice – the last time at 14-7 before Mediapolis started their comeback. Eakins had a kill, but then Heidi Hillyard had three big winners for the Bullettes to draw her team within one at 18-17.
The final points were all part of ties at 20 and 22. DC actually led 22-20 before Mediapolis fought back to even. Holsteen's kill gave the home team a 23-22 lead and they would score the next point to take a 24-22 lead. Another Holsteen kill ended the Mustang season. The Mustangs finished their season sporting a 29-14 record.
“At times tonight, we played as well as we have all season” said Barnett. “This team gave us all they could all season and I'm proud of them for that”.
Davis County 22-18-23
Davis County statistics
Serving — Lynch 9/9, Shelby Graves 13/13, Janel Fenton 6/7, Joos 16/17, Eakins 13/13, Birchmier 6/6. Team — 63/65.
Aces – Joos 2, Eakins. Team -– 3.
Hitting – Lynch 7/9, Graves 2/4, Fenton 1/1, Joos 15/19, Eakins 24/25, Birchmier 25/29. Team – 74/87. Kills – Graves 2, Joos 2, Eakins 9, Birchmier 2. Team – 15.
Blocks – Fenton, Eakins 3, Birchmier 4. Team — 8.
Digs — Joos 9. Team — 30.
Assists — Graves 26. Team — 28.