By John Miller (for OzarksSportsZone.com)
Nixa, Mo. — There is likely to be a brand new prime canine in southwest Missouri volleyball.
After watching convention rival Nixa win the Class 4 state title a season in the past, Willard swept the Eagles in spectacular vogue on Tuesday evening, 35-33, 25-15, 25-21.
“That is the most effective staff effort we’ve had for the reason that season began,” Willard coach Jamalee Hancock mentioned. “We’ve had nice particular person performances by women on the staff this yr, however each one in all them got here to play tonight.”
Payton Van Veen led the Tigers in kills with 19, whereas Missouri State commit Maddy Bushnell added 15 and eight kill-blocks. Jaycee Fixsen paced Nixa with 15 kills, and Taylor Golmen contributed 9. Sydney Golden dished out 40 assists for the Eagles.
“We all know after we get the ball in Payton and Maddy’s palms, they’re tremendous onerous to defend,” Hancock mentioned. “(Setter) Paige Gayer did a terrific job getting them balls and making all of them hittable. They’re so highly effective and sensible that they knew when to throw the offspeed stuff and frustrate Nixa.”
The match arguably was determined within the opening set, which featured seven lead modifications and 18 ties. Willard fell behind 6-2 early earlier than successful 11 of the subsequent 14 factors to take a 13-9 lead, punctuated by a block-kill from Bushnell.
Willard stretched its result in 19-13 earlier than Nixa answered with a 6-0 run, night the set at 19-19. It was back-and-forth from there, with Willard combating off 5 set factors and taking the opening stanza 35-33.
“For us to be one level away from shedding that set a number of occasions and struggle again …,” Hancock mentioned. “We had a reasonably good cushion early, however Nixa fought again and put the stress on us. That was an enormous momentum service for us into the second set.”
Nixa couldn’t overcome the primary set loss, dropping 10 of the primary 14 factors of the second. Willard led by as many as 9 factors within the second (21-12) till a Bushnell kill gave the Tigers a 25-15 set victory.
The Eagles confirmed extra life within the third, taking a 2-0 lead on a dig/kill from junior Addison Tauai. However Willard scored 5 of the subsequent six factors and by no means trailed from there. Fittingly sufficient, Bushnell’s fifteenth kill of the evening closed out the defending champs.
“This can be a enormous confidence enhance for us to return on their residence turf and win,” Hancock mentioned. “They’ve so many nice athletes they usually’re so nicely coached. If we may play Nixa day by day of the week, we’d take it. They solely make us higher.”