Tori Small may be the tallest of the third-year Comets adept at both blocking and hitting, but she has plenty of company in controlling the net, as proved Thursday in a 3-0 Southwestern Conference rout of the Middies.
“Tori does a nice job and she’s only a junior,” said coach Laurie Cogan. “I’ve got a lot of juniors and I’ve been working with these kids going on the third year. They’re really starting to pull it together.”
Midview kept the first game close, trading the lead until the scoreboard read 17-16 Amherst. Led by Alana Carrion, the Comets pulled ahead to a four-point advantage.
Match point went to Sarah Farley with a block point to take the game 25-21. Audrey McConihe and Alyssa Aponte served up aces in the set.
Round two was all Amherst. Kills by Farley, Sarah Weigand, Tori Small, and Payton Jackson drove a four-point lead at 12-8 to a commanding 20-9 chasm. The final score was 25-11.
Notable was the opening serving rotation of Erika Eischen, who led the Comets to a 7-0 lead before Midview finally got a side out.
Up two games, the Comets let their guard slip slightly and the Middies pounced on the opportunity, matching Amherst point-for-point. A 9-5 Comets lead went to a 12-12 tie — and then the Middies pulled ahead 12-16 as Cogan called a timeout.
“With young kids, you never really know how to get them back on track,” she explained. “Our hitters are very good. They were not taking their feet to the ball. The ball was way too far out in front and they were stretching for it… The only thing I said is we’re going to keep swinging but you have to get your feet to the ball.”
It was all the Lady Comets needed to hear.
Farley, Carrion, and Small dominated the net for the rest of the game with the Comets defense granting little. Amherst tied the score at 16-all before going on to win 25-18.
Match point went to Small on a block point. In two rotations as server, Weigand chalked up four aces in the game.
“We have some offensive ammunition this year,” Cogan said. “They do great blocking and attacking. We feel that on any given day we can be competitive. There were some teams last year that we were not overly competitive with.”
She called the fall season a new beginning for returning players putting their experience to use on the court.
Photos by Carl Sullenberger | Amherst News-Times Junior Payton Jackson goes for the kill on Thursday. Jackson, one of several hitters for the Comets, had three kills in the 3-0 win over the Midview Middies in Southwestern Conference action.