Savages top Trojans in three sets

Sloane Magill was a big part of the Sigourney victory, finishing with seven kills in the match at Tri-County. 

There aren’t many times when a player turns coach, and then has a matchup with their former coach on the schedule, at least not in Keokuk County. That was the case when the Tri-County Trojans hosted the Sigourney Savages on Thursday, Sept. 21. Trojans coach Sydney Davis was looking to beat Chris Carter, her former instructor, for the second time in two years.

The Savages made sure that didn't happen, but it wasn't easy by any means.

Coming into the match, Sigourney had started off most of their sets sluggish and slow, often getting behind early. That wasn't the case on Thursday, with aces and kills to take the lead. By the time Tri-County began to get anything going, it was too late. The Savages rattled off straight points to put away the first set, 25-10.

It was just the start the visitors hoped for. Meanwhile for the home crowd, they'd seen this many times already this season, and it seemed like the match would soon be over. Sigourney again got off to a hot start in the second set, but Tri-County began to pull their play together.

The Trojans caught up, cooling off the Savages and causing them to make errors. The offense started to click, fewer balls hit the floor and Tri-County began to pass and play a consistent game. At one point the Trojans had the lead with a score of 17-16.

The home crowd, which had been a non-factor earlier, began to sense a shift in momentum and got louder as their team played better. Sigourney found a way to break through late, with some crucial aces on their end. The second set was much closer, but still went to Sigourney 25-20.

Tri-County didn't quit, continuing to score with their new-found offense. They got a good kick-start from Myrissa Garber, who put together a few aces to begin play in the third set. In the blink of an eye, the Trojans were up 7-2.

Sigourney had a handful of kills that went out of bounds, which helped fuel the Tri-County rally. The girls made some adjustments throughout the third, dialing down the aggression and finding gaps in the Trojan defense. Sigourney pulled even, but couldn't shake Tri-County for most of the set.

"We're starting to second guess ourselves when things don't go well," said Carter. "The last couple matches we fell apart. When things started to not go our way we started playing cautious."

The Trojans, who had started out sluggish, were now flying around the court and playing more like a team. Several rallies commenced in the set, with Tri-County coming up just short of getting some clutch points.

"Very proud of the defense in the second and third sets," Davis said. "The more we talk and have fun, the better we play as a team."

With the match on the line, Sigourney turned to its reliable leaders to finish it out. Brooke Waechter and Sloane Magill turned up the aggression, harnessing their kills in bounds to keep the ball on their side. Sigourney ended any chance for a dramatic comeback, with a pair of aces and forcing a Tri-County error.

"I preached to them they need to be aggressive but play smart," Carter said. "We're still trying to learn that balance."

Though the final set score was 25-17, the game played much closer than the ending indicated.

The Savages had several players make big plays in the win. Waechter led the fire-power with 14 kills, also tallying four digs, one block and one ace. Leah Carter had 22 of the team's 25 assists, five kills, one dig and one block.

The team as a whole finished with nine aces, three coming from the hands of Ryleigh Leonard. The Savages also had 62 successful serves during the match, 19 coming from Sydney Striegel, who also had two aces.

The Savages hoped to build off the positives when they competed in a tournament at Mid Prarie on Sept. 23, and then hosted English Valleys on Monday, Sept. 25.

Looking at the Trojans stat line it seemed like they got blown out, but the girls kept their composure and didn't back down. One instance was the play from Reace Thomas. Only a freshman, she had to fill in for the role of libero, with Emma Miover sidelined from an injury. In her first game at the position, Thomas was seven of eight from the service line.

"I was very proud of how Reace played tonight," Davis said. "She finished the game with a back row kill and led the team with seven digs."

Myrissa Garber, a major contributor on the team, also had a big night for the Trojans. She finished the game missing on only two of her 15 serves, six digs, five assists, two kills and two aces.

The Trojans had another tough matchup on the schedule, playing at Iowa Valley on Sept. 25.