By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — The Troy volleyball team may not have expected to find itself in a tough situation Thursday against Butler.
But once there, the Trojans responded.
After dominating the first two sets, Troy found itself trailing 21-19 late in the third set — but a quick switch in the lineup gave the Trojans a spark, helping them complete the sweep in a 25-13, 25-9, 26-24 victory over the Miami Valley League Miami Division rival Aviators Thursday at the Trojan Activities Center.
“I’m proud of our girls for not dropping a set,” Troy coach Michelle Owen said. “They finished it out there at the end, and they made some plays. We didn’t miss serves, which was clutch, we put the pressure on them and they kind of cracked a little bit.”
Troy, which won for the eighth time in the nine matches since a five-set loss to still-unbeaten division leader Tippecanoe, improved to 15-2 overall and 13-1 in the MVL Miami, while Butler fell to 5-11 and 5-9 in the MVL Miami.
The first time Troy and Butler met this season, the Trojans didn’t allow the Aviators to reach double digits in any set in a sweep. Thursday began much the same way, with Troy coasting through the first two sets and building a 12-5 lead in the third as it began to substitute out its starters.
But with second-string setter Morgan Kaiser out with an injury, Troy’s backup setters struggled to keep things going, getting called for a total of five doubles in the third as Butler rallied to take a 21-19 lead. Starting setter Morgan Baber reentered the game at that point, though, and the Trojans ran off four straight points to retake the lead. Butler was able to tie the score at 24-24, but a service error gave Troy another match point, and the Aviators weren’t able to return Kate Orban’s serve, closing out the match.
“It’s good for us. We need to have all of our kids playing and getting experience if we can,” Owen said. “And we’ve got to do the little details better. All night long, our serve receive needed to be better, and that would have helped aspects of that third set, too. But we had too many ball handling errors in that third set, and ultimately our goal was to not drop a set, so we had to make some subs to make sure that didn’t happen.
“It was good to see our kids be able to respond and make the plays. And I didn’t have to call any timeouts, either.”
Troy certainly didn’t need to use any in the first two sets.
Ella Furlong ran off a five-point service run, including a pair of aces, to stake Troy out to an early 8-1 lead, a lead that ballooned to 12 points at 20-8 before Butler battled back to cut the lead to 21-13. A kill and an ace by Lauren Schmitz put an end to that, though, and Troy ran off four straight points to close out the first.
“After the first set, we challenged them to do some things better,” Owen said. “We have a list of things we’re working on. We were a little sloppy in our service game in Set One, so we challenged them to do better in the second set — and they did. They did a nice job responding to that.”
Baber did, particularly, serving the Trojans out to a 9-0 lead in the second, piling up four aces during the run. Schmitz had two more aces to make the score 16-4, then Butler struggled to return Baber’s serve again and fell behind 21-6, and the Trojans finished off that set from there.
Carly Pfieffer had nine kills, two digs and a block and Anna Boezi had nine kills to lead the Trojans offensively on the night. Orban had six kills, two aces and three digs, Schmitz had five kills, four aces, eight digs and a block and Brianna Slusher had five kills, four digs and three blocks.
Baber had 29 assists, a kill, four aces and three digs, Brennah Hutchinson had a kill and five digs, Furlong had two aces, five digs and an assist, Genna Coleman had three digs and an assist, Macie Taylor had a dig and a block and Emmie Jackson had two digs and an assist and Emily Huber had an assist and a dig.
Troy hosts Beavercreek Saturday and travels to Sidney on Tuesday before its rematch with the Red Devils with a chance to share the division title on the line. The Trojans lost to Tippecanoe in five sets on Sept. 4 — and are still the only team to win even one set from the Devils.
“Hopefully we can play better every night,” Owen said. “We’ve had a five-setter against Versailles, a five-setter against Centerville, so we’ve been through the roller-coaster a bit since then, and they haven’t seen that kind of intensity. We do have that experience going for us. So hopefully that will play to our advantage a bit.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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