By ERIC CLINE
Every sport is a game of runs, in one way or another. Unfortunately for the Liberty girls volleyball team, runs cost them dearly.
The Patriots played tough with the visiting Marysville Monarchs, but Marysville made key runs in all three games and finished with a 25-20, 25-17, 25-15 Ohio Capital Conference Central Division win Thursday night at Liberty High School.
Liberty (3-2, 2-1 OCC Central) seemed to be the aggressor early in the first two games, but Marysville (6-4, 2-1) would use its service and Patriot errors to take control, and opened the third game with a huge run to dig Liberty a hole it could not climb out of.
The Patriots had an early 6-3 lead in the first game, helped by kills from junior hitters Shelby Stewart and Lauren Hofer as well as four Marysville errors, and held a 12-10 lead late in the first rotation following two strong serves, one for an ace, by junior Hayley Kelly.
Marysville took the lead briefly near the end of the rotation, but a service error tied the game at 13-all. After the teams traded kills, Marysville got the serve back on a service error, and the Monarchs’ Veronica George served the next five points, four on aces, to put the visitors out front to stay.
Liberty closed within two points, 21-19, helped by a kill from freshman hitter Maddie Fogg, but Marysville won three of the next four points to take the first game.
The Patriots trailed early in game two, but used a pair of kills from junior Lauren Burke to rally back to tie the game at five. Marysville regained the lead after that, using a pair of three-point runs to keep the Patriots at arm’s length, but Liberty twice rallied within a point, 8-7 and 12-11, in the first rotation to keep things close.
Near the end of the rotation, however, Marysville made its run, with Monica Miller going 5 for 6 on service with two aces and Emily Bucklin adding a pair of kills that helped the Monarchs to an 18-11 lead. Liberty closed within five points twice afterward, with Fogg, Burke and Hofer recording kills, but could not close the gap.
Marysville’s run in game three came early. The Monarchs scored the first three points then, after a side out, regained the lead on a Bucklin kill. George then served the next nine points, helped by five kills more from Bucklin, and the Monarchs pulled out to a 13-1 lead.
Liberty chipped away at the deficit slowly, getting a kill from Stewart and an ace from Kelly to stop the run, and kills from sophomore Madison Brenner, Burke and Fogg, but the visitors still led 20-7 after the first rotation.
Fogg served three straight points with an ace and Hofer added a kill to trim the lead back to 10, and a side out plus a Stewart kill helped the Patriots stave off match point for a while.
On the final point, Stewart looked to have another strong kill that would have cut the deficit to single digits, but the chair umpire ruled a net violation on the play, giving the match to Marysville.
Hofer led the team with nine kills with Fogg adding five and Stewart and Burke four each. Fogg also topped the team with 15 assists, while Brenner and Kelly added a pair of aces each. Fogg, Burke and sophomore Summer Mack also had one block each for Liberty.
Bucklin topped all hitters with 17 kills and five blocks for Marysville. Anna McNabb had a game-high 17 assists, and George finished with a game-leading seven aces.