By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Clever, Mo. — While Volleyball momentum can be a fickle dance partner, it’s tough to stop once everything starts rolling at once.
After falling into an early deficit, Aurora ripped off a series of big runs to take control of the match and down Clever in straight sets Monday evening, 25-13 and 25-19.
The Lady Bluejays raced out to an early, 9-6 lead in the opening set.
Then the wheels came off.
A kill from Julia McVey gave Aurora a much-needed side-out, rotated Kaylee Huffman to the service line and triggered a 9-0 run by the Lady Houn’s.
“We just had a mental letdown, there,” said Clever head coach Angie Wise. “We jumped out to a good lead and played with confidence, then all of the sudden we lost focus. Aurora is a great team, and you cannot do that against them.”
Showcasing its trademark ball movement, Aurora remained in system throughout much of the opening set. When the Lady Houn’s were able to pass the ball cleanly to setter Rachel Negre, the senior gave Aurora’s hitters wide open looks.
Emily Moore turned out to be Negre’s prime benefactor on the evening.
The senior outside hitter notched five of her game-high 12 kills in the opening set, as the Lady Houn’s put together additional runs of 5-0 and 3-0 to close out the frame.
Moore was quick to credit her teammate for setter her up with prime balls at the net.
“[Negre] has a good volleyball mentality,” Moore said. “She can see the block coming, and she knows when to put it to the outside or go back on it. She just has that smartness.”
Aurora head coach Skye Wade was quick to praise not only her senior hitter’s effective performance, but all the steps along the way to the kill at the net.
“The kill is the last thing that comes,” Wade said. “When you get the glory, you have to turn around and tell your setter, ‘Great job,’ and then your setter has to turn around and tell your passers, ‘Great job.’ In those positions, we were coming back to our bread and butter; getting good passes, getting good sets and then Emily finding the spot and slamming it at the end.”
The second set was much closer, featuring a back-and-forth struggle for points and momentum that saw the score knotted up seven times.
With the score tied at 14-all, Aurora went on yet another big rally.
Behind Jacy Heller’s service game, clean passing and dominant net play, the Lady Houn’s ripped off six straight points and took control of the second set.
Moore was particularly effective, putting together a string of three kills in a row during the stretch and leaving Clever and Coach Wise with few answers.
“[Moore] got really hot,” Wise said. “They made a run there at the end and, like I said, against a good team like that, you can not let down one bit, or they’re going to take advantage … and they know how to finish it.”
For Aurora, Negre finished with 27 assists to pair with Moore’s 12 kills. Libero Kaylee Huffman led the Lady Houn’s with 20 digs.
Clever was led by Abi Menzies’ 8 kills, Lindsay Peebles’ 13 assists and Harper Little’s 9 digs in the match.
After a quick turnaround, Aurora (23-3-2) hosts Lamar on Tuesday, Oct. 3, while Clever (14-7-3) travels to Crane that same evening.
Varsity final: Clever – 0, Aurora – 0
JV final: Clever – 2, Aurora – 0 (25-20, 25-14)
Frosh final: Aurora – 1, Clever – 0 (25-18)