Behind the great play of seniors Whitney Vermillion and Alison VanDiggelen, the Lady Jays found themselves in control of the match after a 25-20 first set win.
“We came out with fire and played with a lot of enthusiasm and had a lot of fun; when the girls do that they play well,” said Messick. “It gave us a lot of momentum heading into the second set.”
That momentum, as well as Vermillion’s team-high 10 kills, would carry Marshfield to a 16-9 second set lead as well.
That’s when a reeling Lady Eagle team responded; winning 16 of the next 20 points, to steal the second set and eventually the nonconference match 2-1.
“I don’t think we came out ready to play,” said Fair Grove coach Tonya Peck. “We were nervous, not playing together, and not outsmarting our opponent, something we’ve really been trying to stress this year. Instead of being a step ahead we were a step behind.”
But that changed in the second set, on an incredible hustle play by sophomore libero Haley Stallings. Although the Lady Eagles didn’t win that point, her hustle revived a flat Fair Grove team.
“I tell our girls effort will spark energy,” said Peck. “If we can get hands on balls, even if it doesn’t go our way, it will bring positive energy to our court.”
Senior Mikala Hicks would then finish the second set charge to force a third and decisive set, where she would continue to score crucial points for her squad.
“She is so athletic,” said Peck. “She’s a great kid and a great player and we definitely want the ball in her hands in pressure situations. She did what we wanted her to do.”
Hicks finished with a match-high 14 kills.
Sophomore setter Jorden Stacey, who would finish with a match-high 17 assists and 17 kills, added six huge service points in the third set alone to help propel Fair Grove.
“She is our first server for a reason,” said Peck. “She’s aggressive, has a great top spin and also has a great floater. She got that third set started for us.”
The win moves Fair Grove to 4-2 on the season, with the two losses coming to strong Nixa and Reeds Spring programs.
The Lady Eagles have gotten off to an impressive start in a year that some considered to be a rebuilding season.
“We keep talking about last year and this year, trying to adjust and make this our team,” said Peck. “We aren’t last year’s team, and we are going to adjust to make this year’s team as good as we can be. Part of that is being smarter and those girls listened to everything we said tonight, they executed, and I think that is why we won the ball game.”
Fair Grove is in action Thursday against Rogersville. The Lady Jays will visit Ava also on Thursday.
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