MOUNT CARMEL -- How would Mount Carmel Head Volleyball Coach Kelsey Beckerman's group respond to a two-match losing streak to powerhouses Fairfield and Mount Vernon (Ind.)? With the steady poise they've showed all season long.
The Lady Aces handily swept (25-20, 25-17) Mount Vernon (Ill.) to get back on track and picking up their 12th win of the season.
Mount Carmel opened the match dominant, opening with an early 8-3 advantage with five combined kills by junior Allie McPherson and Madeline Goldman leading the way.
They'd run into some trouble though. Their once stellar play has dropped off and the Rams (1-8) took advantage with an 11-2 run, seizing a 14-10 lead midway through the first set.
Beckerman trusted her girls though and didn't use a timeout, instead opting to go with a new look in serve receive to combat the Rams. Whatever it was, it started to pay off.
The Lady Aces (12-5) would rally back and steal the set. A pair of Mount Vernon errors served as the last couple points, allowing Mount Carmel to escape with the victory.
In the second set Mount Carmel seemingly composed themselves and started to look like their dominant selves. After Mount Vernon scored the first two points of the set, Mount Carmel strung off a 7-0 run, highlighted by a pair of aces by senior Jessica Wall. Their run forced a Mount Vernon timeout to slow the Lady Aces' momentum, but their stellar second set play would continue.
Some highlight plays in the set included some tremendous digs by Wall, as well as one by senior Kassidy Drone at the net to keep a ball alive in what led to a Lady Aces point.
Junior McKenna Golden put the finishing touches on the match with the match point kill, handing her team the victory.
"Some nights we look great in the first set coming out, fall off in the second and tonight it was the opposite," Beckerman spoke of the victory. "Tonight we were ready to play in both sets, ready to come out swinging, swinging hard and get good points off of good swings. I was really impressed with how we did that tonight. Both sets we let them jump back in a little bit, we kind of dug ourselves in a little hole, but we've proven all year that we can get down, get back. Both sets tonight we stopped their runs quicker than we've had up until tonight, so that's a big thing, something we've been working on as well."
The JV Aces also won, with each of their sets coming down to the wire in what was a highly entertaining finish. They won in straight sets (25-23, 30-28), with Olivia Stinson recording an ace, Grace Adams recording a team-high six kills, Savannah Zimmerman recorded a team-best six assists, Rilee Riggs recording a crucial block toward the end of the second set, and Mackenzie Sisson recording three digs.
Mount Carmel's varsity squad was led by Wall's five aces, McPherson recording a team-best 11 kills and seven digs and Drone's 22 assists.
It was an important win for the Lady Aces, not just because of the two-match losing streak, but because this one was the first of three matches in the week for Mount Carmel. A confidence boost early on was incredibly important entering what's likely to be a pair of tough matches.
"I just think both matches, using both of those to go back and look at film in postseason and things like that," Beckerman spoke of her team bouncing back following their losses to Fairfield and Mount Vernon. "Really hone in on what we were doing wrong in those matches so to speak to come out and get a win coming off those two. It's a confidence booster for us going forward, especially on a long week."
With the victory they've officially exceeded their win total from last season (11). Sitting with a solid 12-5 record late in the year, they still have time to add on to their ever growing win total, which has been the best in a long time for the program.
They'll return to action on short rest Tuesday (Oct. 8) against an unfamiliar foe, the Panthers of Oblong. The Panthers (15-10) enter on a four-match winning streak, and will serve as an important trial into Mount Carmel's next biggest challenge, a date on Thursday at home against former Big Eight foe Washington (17-7). Tuesday's match will begin with the freshmen at 5:15 p.m., Thursday's will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the JV squads.
"We have Oblong tomorrow," Beckerman said. "This is the first time we've had them on our schedule. We dropped a couple Big Eight matches so I was doing some looking on the IHSA website to see if anybody around had any open dates and they did, we were able to work it out with them. We'll go there, don't know a whole lot about them yet, I've been looking at some records and some things like that to see if we have any similar teams. It's a long week for us, we have three matches, so we have to get as much rest as we can tonight before tomorrow and hope tomorrow we can come out and do the same thing."
MV -- 20 17
MC -- 25 25
Aces: Wall (5), McPherson (1), Goldman (1), K. Drone (1), Golden (1).
Kills: McPherson (11), Goldman (6), York (3), K. Drone (2), Merritt (1), Golden (1).
Assists: K. Drone (22), McPherson (1), Goldman (1).
Digs: McPherson (7), Goldman (6), Wall (6), Hannah (4), A. Drone (4), K. Drone (3).
Next up: Tuesday, Oct. 8 at Oblong, 7 p.m.; Thursday. Oct. 10 vs. Washington, 6:30 p.m.; Monday, Oct. 14 vs. Lawrenceville, 7 p.m.