By Joe Smith
As the Morgantown High School volleyball team took the court Tuesday to host cross-town rival University High School, MHS senior Madison McDonald knew her team needed a defensive stand to nullify the Hawks’ vicious hitting attack.
Sometimes, however, the best defense is a talented offense.
“I think the main thing is to just keep pushing. For them, their hitters are the strong point. We knew we had to take out their back row with our intensity,” McDonald said.
“We kept pounding the ball — even when our passes weren’t the best and our sets weren’t the best, we were still constantly putting the ball down and taking their back row out of the system.”
The strategy paid dividends for MHS (9-3), as the Mohigans swept three consecutive sets
(26-24, 25-18, 25-13) to take down the Hawks (9-3), 3-0.
“We wanted to slow them down with our offense. Making good first passes, good sets, and good hits consistently; that throws them off their game,” said MHS coach Nick Lusk. “It keeps them on the defensive instead of on the offensive.”
The result was an abnormally poor hitting performance from the Hawks, as they couldn’t seem to stay in position or keep the ball in play for most of the match.
“We hit I don’t know how many balls out of bounds, and the serving was horrible tonight. Overall, it was a waste of a night,” said UHS coach Don Godfrey.
“Morgantown wanted to play, and we didn’t. That’s the bottom line. They were hustling all over the place, and we were standing their letting balls drop. Good teams are going to take advantage of that. I think we checked out.”
Heading into the match, Lusk emphasized attention to detail, knowing his team needed to stay fundamentally sound if it wanted to out-hit the Hawks.
“What I told them before the game was stay disciplined, trust your teammates, make the first pass, and do what we need to do to get the win. They did a good job of that,” he said.
“Today’s win was mostly because of our consistency,” said McDonald. “We made sure we focused on the little things; getting our passes on center, getting the ball where it needed to be, and getting our hitters hits.”