BOURBON – It looked to be in the bag. Up two games to zero at Triton, Tippecanoe Valley’s volleyball team appeared to be on its way to a quick win Thursday night. But a resilient Lady Trojan side made Valley work before settling a 3-1 final in favor of the visitors in yellow and green.
Valley ran out to a 25-15 win in game one doing what it does best, riding the power of Caylie Teel and making defenses work. Teel hammered home two early kills, helping Valley to an 18-9 edge. Valley also used a nice surge in game two, breaking a 7-7 tie with an 8-1 run to break open the game. Triton would rally, pulling within five at 22-17 before the Lady Vikings would regain composure; Teel smashing home the winner of a 25-20 final.
But as Triton began to figure out Teel’s tendencies and how Valley was rotating its offense, the game began to shift.
“We’re used to it. Caylie is our go to and it’s obvious,” said Tippecanoe Valley head coach Mallory Eaton. “The younger kids are finally starting to step up. In year’s past, we didn’t do well to transition. We were good at our one thing and we panicked when it was something else. These girls are finally starting to understand we can make changes.”
Triton’s play at the net in game three took its toll, finding itself up 23-22. After Valley stole a point back, Jaela Meister mashed home a pair of kills followed by a Valley error to settle game three at 26-24 hosts.
“Jaela is a great athlete and will be happy to use her when able,” said Triton head coach Samantha Willsey, who followed on a ceiling question for Meister, “I hope we never find out. I hope we are still going after it always.”
It looked as if the night might be five games long as game four had Valley up 22-16 but the Lady Trojans were making another run. Meister hammered home a kill followed by a pair of aces from Nicole Sechrist. At 22-19, Triton was eager. But just as the scorekeepers started looking for the fifth page, a service error, followed by another Triton error all of a sudden had Valley serving for match. Olivia Trippiedi took honors with the dagger, sending an ace right down Broadway to close out a 25-19 capper.
“Triton is much improved,” said Eaton, whose club moves to 9-5 overall. “I don’t want to play weak teams. I want to play teams that are as good or better than us. I thought we came out strong, but we have this third game slump thing.
“We’re improving, and that’s what I care about.”
Teel, who is narrowing college volleyball choices between IUSB and IPFW, led all attackers with 20 kills on 38 attempts and added 12 digs and three aces off her powerful jump serve. Abby Betten quietly chipped in 12 kills and Lexi O’Connell had 11 kills and six big blocks. Tenaya Shull and Maddison Heninger combined for 31 assists while Jaden Biddle led the defense with 20 digs.
Triton (2-3) did not have the stat fillers that Valley did, but still had a solid statline from Meister, who led the team with nine kills and seven digs. Krystal Sellers had another workman’s night with 19 assists, six digs, a pair of kills and an ace. Lauren Howstrawser and Nicole Sechrist combined for four kills and five blocks, but gave Triton presence at the net that made a difference.
“Our focus has been our defense,” Willsey stated. “I think we made accurate transitions tonight. The adjustments we made we definitely improved every set and that’s what we’re looking for and capitalizing on their weakness. We just couldn’t pull off the win at the end.”
The junior varsity contest had similar metrics as the varsity contest, but the result went to Triton 25-17, 25-19. Triton had little trouble in the first game, but found themselves down 14-2 in the second game before rallying for 15 of the next 18 points to change the course of play. Stats were not provided from the JV game.
Tippecanoe Valley will travel Monday to Columbia City while Triton will host the Triton Tournament Saturday.