All smiles on Senior Night
Washington can breathe a sigh of relief.
The Demons’ volleyball team (5-23) has had a frustrating season full of heartache and suffering, but last night all that was lifted.
These moments don’t come along very often. Senior Victoria Bennett capped off a solid night with a match-point kill to seal the win 15-12 in the fifth set on Senior Night.
“Everybody is on a high right now — on cloud nine,” said Washington head coach Julianna Berg.
When asked if she can recall a bigger moment, Bennett couldn’t compare it to anything.
“I can’t say it does; it was great,” Bennett said. “The best feeling.”
It wasn’t easy, though, which has been the case all season long.
After dropping the third set 25-14 to fall behind 2-1, it looked as if Keokuk would take the match in four sets as it did in the teams’ last meeting Sept. 17.
Senior Carly Shelman made sure there would be no déjà vu as she scored three aces during Washington’s 5-0 lead.
“I think that is exactly what shifted the momentum for us,” Berg said. “To come out strong and fired up after that third set was a turning point for us.”
Two kills from sophomore Amber Salow stretched the lead to 13-2, before the game ended 25-10 with another Shelman ace. Shelman had a team-high five aces in the match.
“Carly did fantastic; she has really worked hard on her serve in practice,” Berg said. “You can see it in her face. She goes back to the service line and there is no hesitation.”
After taking a 3-1 lead in the deciding set, the teams traded points up to 6-4. The Demons took their largest lead of the game at 7-4 before the teams went back and forth for an 11-8 Washington lead. Junior Sydney Hoffman and senior Michelle Holland each had one kill during that exchange.
Keokuk rallied off three straight points after trailing 12-8. A serving error ended this spurt and Bennett secured the 15-12 win with a kill.
“Fantastic, I was really hoping that this would be the game that we get a win,” Bennett said. “It feels good.”
This win was a testament to the Demons’ never-say-die attitude.
“We have gone through so much as a team,” Berg said. “When you go through that, it makes you hungrier to win. Especially on Senior Night, they wanted it so bad.”
The seniors made a lot of contributions.
Bennett led her team in kills in the first set with four and finished second on the team with nine kills in the match.
Holland had nine kills along with 12-of-12 serving.
“This is one of the first games that Michelle saw the court for the entire match,” Berg said. “To see her come out and play with the confidence she did, it was a lot of fun.”
Senior Sam Mullens had two kills and one ace on 12-for-17 serving.
Shelman had 12-for-12 serving.
In the first set, Holland had a kill that put her team up 16-15 but couldn’t hold on as the Chiefs went on a 10-3 run to close the game.
The second set saw three lead changes and eight ties. A Salow kill made it 22-21 before three successful serves from Mullens. Salow put Keokuk away with a game-point kill.
Salow led her team with 11 kills after not playing in the first set as Berg gave playing time to seniors.
Berg said that everything jelled in this match compared to the last meeting with Keokuk.
“We played cleaner with less errors,” Berg said. “Things were clicking; sometimes things just happen that way.”
Washington had 80 serves with an 87.5 percent success rate.
“We can thank our serving for that game,” Berg said. “We work on serving every day. That was probably what made the difference in that game.”
Washington travels to Fort Madison Tuesday for a 7:30 match. It lost to the Bloodhounds 3-1, Sept. 25.
“I think it will keep the girls up,” Bennett said. “I think we can do it Tuesday and take Fort Madison.”