By ROGER THOMAS
---- — FAIRFIELD - Earlier this season, the Fairfield volleyball team lost to Fort Madison on the road in four games.
Thursday night in Fairfield, the Trojans avenged that loss with a three-game sweep of the Bloodhounds 25-11, 25-18 and 25-16. The win also allowed the Trojans tie the Bloodhounds for second in the Southeast Conference.
Lots of things contributed to the 19th Fairfield (19-14, 5-3) win. Dominant serving, an impressive team defensive effort and, most importantly, it was evident that 10 seniors didn't want their last home SEC match to be wasted. All 10 contributed to the sweep.
Fairfield dominated the game one, serving 24 of 25 while the visitors went only 8 of 10. This pattern would continue throughout the night.
“Our serving was good tonight. We served long, short, soft, hard, and used all parts of the floor," said Fairfield coach Nancy Diers. "This kept their setter behind the 10 foot line for nearly all of the match. That allowed us to control their hitting.”
Fort Madison, who wants to ride their attacking, had 11 hitting errors in game one. Fairfield grabbed the lead at 4-3 on a kill by Madison Roberts and then never gave it back.
Near the midpoint of game one, Marissa Repp had a five-point service run and, adding the play at the net by Hanna Greiner, led to a 16-6 Fairfield lead. Greiner, who led the Trojans with nine kills for the match, had two kills and two winners with the block during the run.
Using an inspired defensive effort, Fairfield cruised to the game one win. The bigs playing at the net and the group in the back worked as one unit to cover the floor.
"We put up a stronger block tonight and the transition of our girls at the net was really good. Our group in the back did a great job of getting to balls and keeping them from finding the floor," said Diers. "Our defense is really coming around and this might have been the best defensive match we've had all season.”
That's putting it mildly!
The game one blueprint was again followed to perfection in game two, where The Trojans only missed one serve while the visitors had five service errors.
Greiner had a kill at the net off an errant Bloodhound pass for a quick 2-0 Fairfield lead. The visitors tied it at two, but then Fairfield would hold small leads until Fort Madison tied it again at 16.
Two kills by Molly Ryan kept the Trojans up 9-7. A couple of points later Greiner's kill gave Fairfield a 12-8 lead. Back-to-back kills by Fort Madison's Meagan Hoenig pulled the visitors to within one at 16-15. Then the Trojans took control and put the game away. Sydney Burnett keyed the late Trojan play with a five-point service run for a 21-16 lead. Again the hitting by Fort Madison let them down. While Repp was getting two late kills for the Trojans, the Bloodhounds had three late hitting errors that sealed the game two win for Fairfield.
"I think our defense really took them out of how they wanted to attack," said Diers. "The third game they were going to the tip to try and get it down.”
Realizing that Fairfield had missed only two serves in the first two games, it would be hard to imagine a better effort.
Not so fast my friend.
The Trojans were a perfect 26 of 26 in game three. This helped the defense continue to cover the floor and take away the offense of the visitors.
One of the leaders of the Fairfield defense, Cheyanne Laux, talked about her team's play.
"We've been a little inconsistent this season on defense. Tonight, our front row was good with their positioning and that helps us set up the rest of our defense. It helps me get to balls when they are that tough.”
The visitors grabbed one of the few leads they had in the entire match on a kill by Kaylin Featheringill. Two successive hitting errors by the Bloodhounds gave the early lead back to Fairfield. The score stayed close until Repp picked up the serve for the Trojans. She would reel off eight straight and the Trojans would be up 16-9 and on their way to the game three win.
Greiner had three kills during the run. All three shots were of a different type.
"Our setter (Kelsey Roberts) and I were really connected tonight," said Greiner.
Roberts (Kelsey), with a perfectly placed winner and a big hit off the block by Greiner, put the Trojans up 18-11. A block winner by Ryan and a perfectly placed kill by Leah Browning increased Fairfield's lead to 22-13. Greiner ended the match with her final kill.
"I told the girls afterwards that this is what I've been waiting for all season," said Diers. "This was a concentrated, full of energy effort on both sides of the ball. It was good to see.”
The Trojans hopefully can build on the effort and carry it into their opening Class 4A regional postseason match Monday at home against Oskaloosa at 7 p.m.
Ft. Madison 11-18-16
Ft. Madison Statistics
Serving -Erin Craig 8/8, Meagan Hoenig 0/1, Rachel Steffensmeier 9/11, Kayla Culbertson 4/6, Sydney Kruse 7/9, Chloe Carter 4/6, Allison Bailey 1/3, Kelsey Heidbreder 1/1. Team 34/45 . Aces – none. Team – none.
Hitting – Hoenig 24/29, Kaylin Featheringill 9/14, Steffensmeier 6/7, Culbertson 23/31, Caitlin Marshall 11/11, Bailey 1/3, Paige Leffler 15/19 . Team 89/114. Kills – Hoenig 7, Featheringill 2, Culbertson 2, Marshall 2. Team – 13.
Blocks – Hoenig, Featheringill, Marshall, Alexis Pumphrey, Leffler 3. Team – 7.>
Serving – Marissa Repp 18/18, Kelsey Roberts 10/10, Mackenzie Flattery 10/10, McKenna Ledger 6/6, Cheyenne Laux 12/12, Sydney Burnett 13/14, Keri Schwarz 4/5. Team 73/75 . Aces – Burnett. Team – 1.
Hitting – Repp 15/19, K. Roberts 2/2, Ryan 8/10, Greiner 17/18, M. Roberts 23/26, Burnett 4/4, Keri Schwarz 6/7, Ledger 0/1, Browning 4/4. Team 79/90 . Kills – Repp 4, K. Roberts, Ryan 2, Greiner 9, M. Roberts, Browning. Team – 18.
Setting – K. Roberts 18. Team – 18.
Blocks – Ryan 3, Greiner 3, Ledger. Team – 7.
Digs – Burnett 15, Repp 14. Team – 62.