By: Joe Blystone
METAMORA (August 29, 2023) – Anyone who says hard work in the gym in the summer doesn’t pay off is lying.
Liberty Center’s senior laden volleyball team made a commitment to excellence during those summer months, and made it pay off in their league opener at Evergreen, drilling the Vikings 25-7, 22-25, 25-14 and 25-11 to raise their record to 4-1 on the year.
“They worked really hard in the summer, and they still work hard every day at practice,” Tiger coach Mallory Dockery said of her team.
“They are internally motivated, and they really hold each other accountable. They take seriously the things they need to improve on, they want to improve every day.”
Addi Zientek helped the Tigers break away in the first set, and set a standard for the night, serving eight straight points including a trio of aces and a 9-2 lead.
That margin continued to balloon through the set when Kiersten Maas went back-to-back aces, Eliza Jones scored twice at the net in the middle and Elle Mohler stuck a crossing shot from the left side, then solo blocked for a kill in a 25-7 romp.
“Our servers have been serving really well,” Dockery explained of the barrage of first set aces. “We learned to be more aggressive serving during the summer, no it’s just a matter of getting and staying consistent. We work on it every day and have been for months.”
Evergreen (1-3) came back in the second set when Kam Merrill nailed consecutive aces to break a 16-all tie.
Liberty came back to lead 20-19 when Mohler scored from the left side again, but Lyla Nash answered with a dunk off a Tiger overpass to give the Vikes a 22-21 advantage,
Emersyn Gerken’s solo block tied the set, but Nash ripped a shot off a block, then drilled a left side kill and Merrill dropped a dump off a set over to give the second set to the Vikings.
But the Tigers opened the third set the same as the first and took a big early lead. Jones blasted a shot through the back side and Kailey Blanton scored from the right and the middle for an early 7-2 burst.
Paige Shively’s right side kill kept Evergreen within 9-6 but Liberty reeled off the next eight to take control of the set.
Eme Gray recorded a threesome of aces and Mohler added three kills to key that run that gave Liberty a 17-6 lead and Evergreen never got within eight the rest of the set.
The fourth set belonged to Maas as the crafty senior had three aces and five more kills on a variety of shots that included a laser beam from the left and an angular crossing push to the opposite side.
Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org