EATON — The Eaton Eagles volleyball team has opened the season with three consecutive wins, beating Dixie, Preble Shawnee and Edgewood last week.
The Lady Eagles played their first match of the season on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at home against Dixie, and won 25-13, 25-19, and 25-6.
“I’m very happy with our receive game tonight,” coach Parker Fields said after the match. “The team did a really nice job of keeping their composure and stayed mentally tough throughout the match.”
Dixie gave a strong showing, particularly in the second game. But the third game proved to be too much for the visiting Greyhounds as Eaton dominated that game from the start.
Senior setter and returning All-State player Emma McKinney led with 18 assists and 10 digs. Junior Ariel Richardson registered 10 kills and seven digs. Equally impressive was sophomore Maley Tintsman with 12 digs and seven assists. Sophomore Ava Miller score four serving aces, while sophomore Becca Mowen and senior Stacia Weathington made eight and seven kills respectively.
“McKinney did a nice job of distributing the ball, and was very solid defensively,” Fields said. “Tinstman did a nice job of taking the second ball when McKinney had to play defense.
“Richardson was great all the way around tonight, attacking the ball really well. She did a nice job of keeping a really good passing team in Dixie off balanced. Also, our left-side hitters (Mowen and Weathington) did a great job of creating shots and hitting holes in their defense.”
On Thursday, Aug. 25, the Eagles traveled to face off against in-county and Southwestern Buckeye League rival Preble Shawnee. Eaton won the match, 25-13, 25-17, 25-23, in a hotly contested event, played in an even hotter Preble Shawnee gymnasium.
Set one saw Eaton score the first point, but senior Arrow Elise Walker answered back with a kill. The Eagles didn’t let that bother them, and took a 7-3 lead. A very long volley of plays ended with Kassy Wilson getting the kill to stall Eaton’s drive.
The next serve saw Shawnee’s Malorie Plaugher with the first block of the evening to bring the Arrows closer. But Eaton regained momentum and began to pull away. When Shawnee suffered four straight errors, Eaton created too much of a lead for an Arrow comeback and won the first game.
Set two started off with Preble Shawnee owning a 3-0 lead off errors from Eaton, but the Eagles tied the score a number of times. After a long rally, Eaton took an 8-7 lead, only to see Shawnee regain the lead two serves later.
Following the eighth tied score (10-10) of the set, Eaton regained the lead for good and lead for the rest of the game. At one point, Eaton was up 19-12 but the Arrows staged a five-point rally to close the gap with the help of the “The Loud Crowd” in the student section, but Eaton finished the set to take a 2-0 game lead.
Set three turned out to a tougher contest. The set featured five lead changes and five tied scores, but toward the middle of the match, Eaton was up as much as 18-12. Two different rallies by Shawnee closed it to within one point and the Arrows actually took a 21-20 lead, but Eaton rallied back with a tie, then a service error, to take a 24-21 lead. Preble Shawnee scored the next two points, but fell to a kill from Richardson to finish the contest.
Tinstman had 10 digs, two aces for the night. McKinney lead the offense with 30 assists. Miller had seven kills and two blocks, Kelsey Waggoner had seven kills and three blocks, while Mowen had six kills and 11 digs. Richardson had a stellar evening with 10 kills, 12 digs, and three blocks. Weathington had six kills.
For Preble Shawnee, Walker led with 10 kills, seven assists, and 11 digs. Plaugher had four kills, Kaylie Campbell had three aces and 13 service points, while Carol Cappel registered seven digs and 24 serve receptions. Savannah Lynch had nine assists.
“Richardson was very strong throughout the night,” said Fields. “She was rock solid for us and played like the leader we need her to be this year. She made some great defensive stops, and gave us offensive production. I’m pretty happy with the way we played our pace and made shots, it kept their defense off balanced. We took a bit of the wind out of Elise Walker’s sails and that was key. What people don’t see Emma do is distribute the ball in a way that keeps a defense honest and only one person on our team had 10 kills.”
On Saturday, Eaton defeated Edgewood in a hard-fought match, 25-16, 25-20, 25-20. Tinstman had 15 digs, while McKinney made 20 assists. Mowen had seven kills, eight digs, while Weathington registered nine kills, 10 digs and four aces.
“I’m happy to get away with a win on a Saturday morning,” Fields said. “Stacia Weathington was our leader on the floor and did some really good things at clutch points in the match. I was happy with the way all three of our upperclassmen performed, along with Becca Mowen. We still need to improve in serve receive and communication throughout the play.”
Eaton is now 3-0 on the season. They were scheduled to play on Tuesday, Aug. 30, in a home match against SWBL Southwestern Division foe Franklin. A key SWBL match looms Thursday as unbeaten Bellbrook comes to Eaton.
Preble Shawnee (1-2) was scheduled to host Madison on Tuesday and travel to Milton-Union on Thursday.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH