By John Miller (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
If the Glendale Falcons wanted to finish the year with an undefeated Ozark Conference record, they had one huge hurdle to climb: the Hillcrest Hornets.
Glendale wasted no time on Thursday night, downing Hillcrest in straight sets 25-22, 25-21 at Hillcrest High School.
“I’m really proud of my teammates,” said Glendale senior middle hitter Elizabeth Quinn, who had a team-high seven kills in the match. “We’ve worked really hard to get to this point. We’ve gotten so much better and grown really close as a team this year.”
Glendale (17-10-3, 9-0 Ozark Conference) wasted no time on Thursday, jumping in front of Hillcrest 4-0 and 10-5 in the opening set.
“In volleyball, you only play to 25, so it’s important to get a lead right at the start,” Glendale coach Stephanie Bates said. “It plays with a team’s mental focus if you get right on them from the start. That’s something we had struggled with earlier this season, but we’ve gotten better at it towards the latter part of our season.”
Hillcrest (23-6-3) battled back, and took the lead at 19-18 on a kill by Sierra Baker. An unforced Glendale error extended it to 20-18, but then the Falcons took over, scoring seven of final nine points in the set to win 25-21.
“Hillcrest gave us all we wanted,” Bates said. “We couldn’t get a ball down on them; their defense was stellar. When you can’t get balls down on teams like that, it’s very frustrating. I felt like we kept our composure and kept siding out and inched towards 25. I was proud of my kids.”
Glendale got seven kills apiece from Quinn and Gabby Birmingham, and Chloe Satterfield led the team with nine assists. Jacey Noble led the team with 17 digs.
Hillcrest played in front for most of the second set and forced a Glendale timeout after a pair of Baker kills made it 10-8. But Glendale hung tough and fought, and with the score tied at 15-15, scored six of the next seven points to pull away for the win.
“Glendale’s a very good team,” Hillcrest coach Robin Collins said. “I knew they were fighting for the conference championship tonight and really wanted it. I was really hoping we could give them a better game. I thought we played tight. We were unable to push through when it came to the bare bones of things.”
Hillcrest was led by 10 assists from Lakin Barrett and nine kills from baker. Jocelyn Tidwell had two aces.
Both teams will now regroup and prepare for district play, which begins Monday. Hillcrest faces in Waynesville in Lebanon in Class 4 District 10, while Glendale draws Branson in Class 4 District 11 in Branson.
“I think both teams got a good match today to send us both into districts,” Collins said. “We wanted to come out of tonight feeling prepared and more confident heading into districts, and we definitely feel that way.”
Glendale 2, Hillcrest 0
Glendale 25 25
Hillcrest 22 21
Kills: Quinn 7, Birmingham 7
Assists: Satterfield 9
Blocks: Quinn 2
Digs: Noble 17
Kills: Baker 9
Assists: Barrett 10
Aces: Tidwell 2