Editor’s note: Volleyball matches are played to 25, but two Verdigris points went erroneously unrecorded in the third set, leading to an inaccurate official score of 25-20. The score in the story reflects every point registered in the set.
SEQUOYAH – Madi York feels she can get a few points consecutively whenever she steps up to serve, and that is exactly what she did Tuesday night.
The Verdigris senior notched seven of the team’s 23 aces against Rogers County rival Sequoyah, including six in the final set to seal a 25-23, 25-18 and 27-20 sweep for the Class 4A No. 4 Lady Cardinals at Olan Graham Field House.
“(Seven aces) is pretty good for me, and it helps my confidence a lot,” said York, who also finished with two kills, both of which came in the second set. “Lately, I haven’t been doing that well, so my serving has helped me get my confidence back, especially during that last set.”
Lily Beller was the second-highest ace earner for Verdigris (12-2) with four while Morgan Borgstadt, Logan Hamilton, Avery Keeler and Abby Barnes each tallied three.
Lady Cardinals coach Caleb Horton said York can certainly do some damage with her serving, and he also gave praise to Keeler, who he called one of the team’s best servers.
Two of Keeler’s aces came during an 8-0 run in the first set that saw Verdigris take a 24-16 lead.
“(Keeler) doesn’t get a lot of recognition for it, but she has a ton of serves and a lot of aces,” Horton said. “She is very consistent. She’s not a big hitter, so people won’t talk about Avery, but Avery is one of our more solid players. She rarely has a bad game.”
Aside from the team’s immaculate serving, though, Horton found himself more frustrated than pleased throughout the match.
The Lady Cardinals struggled to put the 13th-ranked team in Class 3A away, allowing for some longer sets than preferred.
After Keeler’s first-set aces put Verdigris at match point, the Lady Eagles (9-9) scored the next seven points to trim their deficit to 24-23. Luckily, Hamilton managed to end the comeback with her sixth kill of the set.
Hamilton also notched two aces and a block during the opening set and finished with a team-high 13 kills total.
The Lady Cardinals avoided similar issues in the second set, but they did face an early 11-7 deficit. They went on to win via an impressive 18-7 run, during which Borgstadt notched four kills, a block and an ace.
Overall, Borgstadt finished with nine kills, three aces and a block.
In the third set, Verdigris found itself trailing 13-8 despite scoring the first four points via a Borgstadt kill and three-consecutive York aces. The Lady Cardinals didn’t regain the lead until another stretch of three-consecutive aces from York, giving them an 18-15 advantage.
Hamilton sparked the 18-7 run they used to close the match, recording five kills and an ace during that spurt. She scored the final two points with a kill and an ace.
Barnes had two aces during the run as well, and Beller added one.
“Honestly, I think they all could’ve played a little bit better,” Horton said. “We expect more; our standard is a little higher. I’m very happy we won, but I’m not pleased with our performance. I gave them four days off at the break, and maybe I shouldn’t have, and that’s on me. I told them if it’s my fault we lost, I don’t mind taking the blame on it. It feels like we lost, to be honest. We should’ve done better. We had so many errors and stupid mistakes.
“It looks like we haven’t played in four days, and it’s true.”
Ady Johnson, a freshman, was Sequoyah’s leading scorer with seven points, registering four kills and three aces. Fellow freshman Rylee Imhof was close behind with four aces and two kills for six points, while freshman Emma Victory (three kills, one ace, one block) and sophomore Lena Warmebourg (four aces, one kill) each had five points.
The Lady Eagles entered the contest on a six-match winning streak, which included five shutouts and the Hulbert Tournament championship.