In its first game as a member of the West Central Conference, the Nevada volleyball team jumped out to quick leads in both games Tuesday at Smith-Cotton, but S-C rallied back both times to win 25-18 and 25-21.
Nevada led 7-4 in the first game before Smith-Cotton scored the next four points, including an ace from Tori Jacobi. Moments later a Montana Hedrick ace put S-C ahead 11-9.
In the second game, Nevada broke a 6-6 tie to jump ahead 10-6 before Smith-Cotton went on a 7-1 run.
“We just regrouped, huddled up and talked things over between plays,” Abby Knight said. “We made sure we were trying to change the momentum.”
That run from Smith-Cotton included three of Knight’s 11 kills as well as an ace from Courtney Koetting and a pair of aces from Brittany Borke. Koetting finished the night with four aces.
“I feel like I adjusted to my tosses very well,” she said. “I just kept jump serving because it was working.”
S-C coach Darcia Koetting said that even when the serve doesn’t go for an ace, Courtney Koetting’s top-spin serve was effective.
“She’s able to make serve-receive hard for them,” Darcia Koetting said. “It gets them out of their offense and we’re able to get the ball back and execute on our offensive once the ball comes back on our side.”
Several times, S-C would set things up the way it wanted and get a good hit from either Knight or Darby Simon only to have Nevada dig the shot out and send it back.
“They were shuffling back and forth and moving to the ball really well so they could adjust to the ball,” Courtney Koetting said. “They read our hitters and we covered really well across and that’s where we normally go.”
Helping keep Nevada in the game was 6-2 senior middle blocker Rilie Good.
“We knew she was coming,” Darcia Koetting said. “She’s an all-stater so I was watching for her to look strong. She was strong in the middle, but I felt that defensively Brittany Borke did a great job. She stayed low, got to the ball, she played every ball against her. I thought she did a great job.”
Smith-Cotton also had to keep an eye on good offensively.
“As far as hitting, when she’s blocking, trying to hit around her because she really puts up a solid block,” Knight said.
In the first game, Smith-Cotton pulled ahead with an 8-1 run to take a 20-11 lead, capped off by back-to-back kills by Simon and Knight. Nevada answered to cut into the lead, getting a kill from Good to make it 21-15 S-C, but Smith-Cotton put the game away from there.
In the second game, the teams traded points and the lead back and forth early before Nevada jumped ahead with a run and Smith-Cotton answered with another. Knight tapped a kill around the Nevada defense to tie the game 12-12, then after another Nevada point, sent a thundering kill down to tie the game again 13-13.
Smith-Cotton jumped ahead 15-13 and held Nevada at bay, getting two more kills from Knight to finish off the game.
“We came out with a couple of bad serve-receives and answered back with some strong serves,” Darcia Koetting said. “They had some over-passes and had Abby right there waiting to put it down. We started a little sluggish, but I thought the girls did a good job coming back. They have the desire to win and that showed throughout the night. They have a goal in mind and they’re aiming for it one game at a time.”
Knight had four blocks. Jacobi had two blocks and 10 assists. Koetting had three kills, five digs and 14 assists. Borke had nine digs. Hedrick had two kills and Simon had a block.
S-C (3-0, 1-0 WCC) will host Clinton on Thursday.