MARION — Kylie Plant laid down 10 kills to lead the Marion Wildcats to a sweep of the Salem Wildcats, 25-13, 25-22, in a non-conference volleyball game Monday at Virgil “Cuss” Wilson Gymnasium.
“The girls came back from a deficit twice in the second set and then closed out the set and that is not an easy thing to do in volleyball,” said Marion coach Ashleigh Benson. “We have a tendency to side out very well, but not able to push points in our rotation and that’s why we had some trouble in the second set.”
Marion (9-3) controlled the first set after breaking a 4-4 tie with a 6-1 run that included two kills by Plant and the first two of an eventual 10 unforced errors by Salem. Plant was the leading scorer for Marion in the first set with five kills while Lydia Ellis added three.
“Our short sets were working pretty well because they weren’t closing the blocks, so we could split it and the line was working pretty well,” Plant said. “We end up going to third sets quite a bit, so when we got back the lead late in the second set we helped each other keep our focus to close it out.”
The second set went back-and-forth with Salem taking the early lead 7-2, but three unforced errors got Marion back in the set. However, Marion gave the momentum right back to Salem by committing five errors to extend the Lady Cats’ lead to 12-6.
The momentum swung back to Marion when Salem again had trouble finding the court with four errors.
Salem (2-6) got a kill from Kasey Sager to extend the lead to two, but two kills by Kenday Lober lead Marion to its first lead of the second set. Sager led Salem with five kills with Grace Beavin adding four.
“We tried something different in the second set,” Benson said. “We pulled out a couple girls and put in Makayla Nicholson, one of my seniors who doesn’t get a lot of playing time, and she proved herself. She ended up with six assists in the second set.”
Salem rebounded to retake the lead 18-15 with the last two points coming on back-to-back aces by Taylor Gillett. However, a bad serve by Gillett opened the door for Marion who rallied to take a 21-18 lead on a kill by Plant followed by a dink kill by Lober. After a shot into the net by Salem, Plant finished the run with a kill from the left side.
Once again Salem hung tough to tie the score for the fifth time 21-21. Plant got the final Marion rally started with another kill from the left side and Amelia Stotlar upped the lead to 23-22 with a kill from the right side.
“This match is the story of our lives,” said Salem coach Christy Gillett. “We’ve played up with everybody, but the theme of our season is to figure out how to have enough oomph to get over the top.”
A kill by Karli Rose cut the lead back to one, but Stotlar hit a shot from the left side for match point sending Plant behind the service line. Her serve was good and Lober put the set and match away with a smash from the left side to the middle of the court on the return.
Lober, Ellis, Jasa Bell and Abby Bayer finished with three kills each with Bell leading the team with three blocks. Bayer, Plant, Haley Van Horn and Haley Gooch each had one ace for Marion.