Maybe the Olentangy Liberty girls volleyball team lured rival Olentangy Orange into a false sense of security … or maybe it was a coaching adjustment.
Either way, the Patriots overcame a rocky first set to win the next three in a 12-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-20 win over visiting Orange in both teams’ OCC-Buckeye opener Tuesday night in Powell.
The teams split last year to share a league championship with each other.
London Davis had four kills to help the Pioneers open 8-1 in the first and they never looked back in handing the Patriots their first set loss of the young season.
“They have some big hitters when they’re in system,” Liberty coach Jen Chapman said. “I don’t think we served as aggressively as we should have. We had a lot of errors in that first set and we didn’t get a good matchup against their outside.”
Orange coach Katie Duy was happy with the opening set, but thinks it cost her team mentally.
“I think we came out and put the pressure on them,” she said. “I think we probably should have had a little more sense of urgency. (The first set) probably gave them a false sense of security. But, give (Liberty) a lot of credit – they played well.”
Claranne Fechter had 10 kills and three aces, Abby Erickson added nine kills and four blocks and Taylor Karlo chipped in seven kills – including one in the fourth set that started a 4-0 run that gave the Patriots the lead for good.
“We went into (the first set) a little too hyped,” Karlo said. “Knowing that I have my teammates beside me and we all have each other – it’s a really good feeling. We trust each other and we all believe that we can do it.”
Orange rallied to get as close as one twice in the final set. Maya Hendricks, Sydney Gossard and Madison Moll each had kills as the Pioneers rallied to get it to 14-13 before a Karlo kill ended the run.
A service error got the Pioneers within one again at 18-17. But, kills by Erickson and Grace Clark sandwiched around a Claranne Fechter ace started a four-point rally and Orange never threatened again.
Clark has been battling a hamstring injury that has kept her out of action for the Patriots.
“Yesterday was her first day of practice, so I was apprehensive about putting her in too early,” Chapman said. “I didn’t want to hurt her. She had a pretty good warmup – she said she felt pretty good. I got her a couple of reps there in Game 1 and then started her the next three games.”
Erickson had three kills, including set-point as Liberty overcame a late one-point deficit to win the second set to even up the match.
Karlo had three kills in a six-point rally in the third that gave Liberty an 11-6 lead.
“It’s nice having two senior middles that have been playing the last couple of years that have these experiences,” Chapman said. “It’s nice to have that experience out on the court.”
Taylor Metzler led a five-point rally to help Orange knot it 19-19 later in the set.
But, back-to-back kills by Fechter before the clincher by Erickson gave the Patriots the lead in sets.
Logan Flaugh had 24 assists and Maile Steckelberg had 28 digs and three aces for the Patriots (5-0, 1-0).
“They have a great setter … and she did a great job of getting other hitters involved,” Duy said.
Davis finished with a game-high 16 kills, Moll added 13, Metzler had nine and Gossard had seven. Megan McCollum had 27 digs and Addison Evans added 17 for the Pioneers (3-3, 0-1).
Both teams continue league play Thursday. Orange hosts Westerville Central and Liberty visits Westerville South. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at [email protected]