Monday night against Buckeye the Wildcats had no such problem.
Junior Emily Peters dominated from the service line while senior outside hitter Nikki Tuttle controlled the net as Keystone swept the Bucks, 25-15, 25-10 and 25-10.
The Wildcats were able to jump on Buckeye early in each of the three games, building big leads and rolling to the wins. Keystone built leads of 8-1, 10-3 and 10-4 in the sweep.
Then they never let up.
“We haven’t been doing that,” Trego said of putting teams away. “We’ve been up a bunch and let teams get right back into the game. Our intensity would just drop off for a bit and we’d let teams crawl right back in. Then, all the sudden, they have the momentum and we don’t. Then we’d have a close game when we shouldn’t.
“Not tonight, though. We stayed on them … stepped on their throat and didn’t let them breathe.”
Tuttle was a big reason the Wildcats rolled. She dominated the front, ripping off 19 kills and hitting a perfect 27-for-27. She, like the rest of her Keystone teammates, also served well, recording four aces.
The highlight of the match, other than Tuttle’s emphatic kill to end the third game, was one she hammered late in the second game.
Sophomore setter Brooke Trego laid one up for her on the left side, and Tuttle hit the ball so hard that it hit the hands of Buckeye blocker Victoria Mesmer, bounced back over the net and carried so far it went over the Keystone end line.
“That was the first time that’s ever happened to me,” Tuttle said. “I didn’t expect it to go that far. I just kind of looked up and wondered where the ball was going.”
The Wildcats (6-5, 4-3 Patriot Athletic Conference) received solid contributions from Peters and Trego as well. Keystone scored 23 points on Peters’ serve as she put all 27 of her serves into the field of play. Trego was a sparking 55-of-55 setting and finished with 22 assists.
“They had a big win against Elyria Catholic the other day and they’ve definitely built on that,” Buckeye coach Craig Peterson said of the Wildcats after his team fell to 6-3, 5-2. “They played well today and served us off the court.”
Tuttle was pleased with her team’s execution on offense.
“We’ve been working really hard on our offense lately, running a lot of free-ball plays,” she said. “When we got the ball on those plays tonight we were able to get them out of rotation and our work really paid off for us. We were able to get the ball down and we played smart.”
Tuttle also was glad to see how her teammates responded to building big early leads.
“I don’t think there was one second where our intensity wasn’t up tonight,” she said. “We played our hardest the whole match, and when we made a mistake we didn’t dwell on it and let it get into our heads. We just kept going and that really made a difference.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.