August 27th, 2019

Jaguars serve up straight set win over Valkyries

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Paul Najjar

Senior Writer


Jaguars serve up straight set win over Valkyries
Mercy celebrates the win over Sacred Heart; cover: Caitlin Carpenter hammers a big swing against the SHA block

In front of an enthusiastic home crowd, the No. 2-ranked Mercy Jaguars dispatched the No. 4-ranked Sacred Heart Valkyries in straight sets 25-16, 25-22, 25-17 Tuesday night.

The Jags (2-1) relied on experience from senior outside hitter Caitlin Carpenter, junior libero Eleanor Beavin and junior setter Elena Scott to propel the team to the win.

Mercy’s superior service game enabled them to keep the Valkyries offense off balance and neutralize SHA’s outstanding middle attack led by senior Kristen Clemons.

“We executed our game plan well tonight and that’s what we have to do to win,” Mercy head coach Matt Thomerson said. “We were patient. We stuck with our plan and we distributed the ball well to all of our hitters. We were good out of system too, and that’s where our experience showed.”

Carpenter led the Mercy attack with 14 kills, seven of which came in a contentious second set.

Trailing 20-14 the visiting Valkyries (8-1) reeled off five straight points as Clemons asserted her presence blocking and tipping four balls in the run. But the Jaguars would get two big swings from Carpenter to close out the set at 25-22.

“They’re our rivals and they came into the game undefeated and we knew we had to come out ready to play,” Carpenter said. “Since we’re not as strong on our hitting, we had to take them out of system and we did that with our serve tonight.”

The Jaguars graduated two of the program’s most prolific hitters in Jayme Scott (Bellarmine) and Emma Schurfranz (Kennesaw State), but three-year starter Elena Scott (Jayme’s cousin) and Carpenter have worked hard to help players fill the voids.

“We served so aggressively and that prevented them from running their middles as much as they’d like,” Scott said. “Our defense passed well and that allowed me to spread out the opportunities. And our hitters stepped up. Caitlin did a great job of mixing up her shots all night.”

Clemons matched those 14 kills of Carpenter, but also added an ace, a stuff block and several defensive tips. She provided a menacing presence at the net. Unfortunately, the Valkyries gave away points like Halloween candy: 14 scoring errors in the first set, 10 in the second and nine in the third.

“It’s hard to beat a good team when you’re giving them that many freebies,” Sacred Heart head coach Brett Versen said. “They beat us on that first ball, their serve. We couldn’t get any momentum off of our serve and we just didn’t execute on our side of the court.

“After playing eight matches, you think you’ve worked through some of that stuff. For some reason we couldn’t piece our game together and we didn’t make them earn their points. It’s a rivalry game and we have a lot of young players getting their first experience in this type of atmosphere and (they were) all amped up. We’ll learn from it.”

Mercy will play five games in advance of the LIVT. The Jaguars travel to play Holy Cross on Thursday, host Center Grove (Ind.) on Saturday and play a trio of Catholic schools in the next week against Presentation, Notre Dame and Assumption.

Sacred Heart will host four straight tough matches against Ursuline Academy (Cincinnati), Christian Academy, Assumption and Floyd Central before traveling to Waggener ahead of the LIVT.

 

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