North Union’s Zoe Wedding (12) sends the ball over the net against Buckeye Valley Monday evening. The Lady Cats fell in four sets. (Photo submitted)
The fight and spirit is all there, but having that turn into victories has so far eluded the North Union volleyball team.
After a little bit of a slow start on Monday at home against Buckeye Valley, the Lady Cats (0-5) battled through four sets but came up short 16-25, 27-29, 25-17, 25-20.
“We started out a little slow, making a lot of unforced errors,” NU head coach Alexis Maenz said. “From the second set on, it was a very high intensity match.”
Both teams struggled with their offense in the first set as they combined for just 13 points scored while on offense.
Buckeye Valley (2-1) jumped out to a 14-3 lead and later held a 17-6 advantage.
Helped by three service aces by Abi Zimmerman, North Union went on a five-point run, cutting the lead to 17-11.
The Lady Barons closed out the set with four straight points to take the first game.
Things went back-and-forth in the second set with both teams going on mini runs.
Neither could keep the momentum on their side.
Kills by Candace Holloway and Kayla Sedgwick earned North Union a 9-7 edge.
Buckeye Valley bounced back with four straight points, led by two service aces by Elyssa Ebersole.
Trailing 19-17, North Union went on a 6-1 spurt, sparked by a kill from Sedgwick and a service ace by Sienna Ballinger, to take a 23-20 lead.
Buckeye Valley scrambled back to tie the set at 23-23, the first of four times there was a tie in the set.
A second-hit kill by Zoe Wedding gave the Lady Cats a 27-26 edge.
A pair of NU hitting errors and a dual block by Gabbie Kuebler and Dahlia Erickson gave the Buckeye Valley the win.
“The set didn’t end in our favor, but that gave us a spark of momentum,” Maenz said.
Several times North Union went on scoring runs in the third set.
A kill by Sedgwick and a service ace by Wedding made it 7-6 for North Union.
A block by Ballinger, kill by Sedgwick and service ace by Hope Hall pushed the count to 16-11.
That was followed by a six-point run to up the margin to 23-13. Wedding had two aces and Zimmerman and Sedgwick each had a kill.
A final service ace by Sedgwick scored set point, sending the match to a fourth set.
The Lady Cats were not able to keep control of the momentum in the fourth set, although they were able to be on the upside of the count.
Back-to-back kills by Ballinger helped North Union to an 11-7 lead.
A tip kill from Holloway gave NU an 18-17 edge.
Buckeye Valley gradually gained control, scoring seven of the last nine points in the set to close out the match.
“My message to the team after the game is we are still learning how and what it takes to win at the varsity level,” Maenz said. “We just need to continue to play with consistent heart, energy and effort.”
Ballinger finished with 10 kills, Wedding had 13 assists and Holloway totaled 15 digs.
North Union won the freshman contest 25-8. 25-13 and followed with a 25-18, 18-25, 25-18 triumph in the JV match.
North Union returns to action tonight at Northwestern.