MORGANTOWN – Two of the top Class AAA volleyball teams in West Virginia this season happen to also be two rival schools as the Morgantown Mohigans and the University Hawks each entered Tuesday’s Mohawk Bowl volleyball matchup undefeated in 2023.
MHS welcomed crosstown counterpart UHS into the Rowdie Center with both clubs seeking a statement win for its 2023 campaign and aiming to remain unscathed in the loss column.
Behind some strong offense and mental toughness, the Mohigans were able to get the better of the Hawks in a clean sweep 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-21).
“I thought collectively that our girls did a nice job executing,” MHS head coach Erica Manor said. “They came out and served aggressively and our offense was on fire tonight. We came and showed out against our crosstown rivals and are very happy with the win tonight.”
The first set opened evenly as points were traded early on. Tied at eight, both teams were solid in both offense and defense, but the Mohigans were able to break free in the opening set. A 14-10 lead after a run by the hosts forced a UHS timeout but MHS didn’t allow a momentum shift afterward and held a 3-5 point lead for the rest of the set, eventually winning it 25-20.
The second set mirrored the opening of the first, with both teams earning points with some solid play on all sides of the ball. Knotted at nine, the Mohigans again were able to go on a run to force a timeout by the visitors after four straight points giving them a 13-9 lead.
MHS held the five-point lead throughout the rest of the second set at 17-12, then 20-15, and 22-17, eventually closing the third set out when junior Audrey Buck tipped the ball over the net and onto the floor with a fake set that caught the UHS defense off-guard.
“That’s something I like to use when the game is in a tight situation,” she said. “When it’s a close game and match point they’re probably expecting a big hit and spreading out on defense so I tried it and it worked out.”
The third set began the same, with UHS taking a slight lead at 9-8 before MHS went on another mid-set run and stole the lead back at 14-11. The Hawks called a timeout trailing 17-12 in the third set, needing to close the deficit as soon as possible to extend the match for a fourth set.
The hosts continued to hold onto the lead, however, and at 21-17 looked poised to close the match out. The Hawks had other plans though, and won three straight points to cut the MHS lead to just one point at 21-20, forcing a timeout as well.
“We came into the timeout and I reminded them about how we like that sort of scenario,” Manor said. “We run that in practice and we know what we need to do to get the job done. I’m really proud of the effort.”
The Mohigans closed the third set 25-21, and the match 3-0.
“I thought we had some lulls there in each set and our serve-receive wasn’t the best tonight,” UHS head coach Nick Lusk said. “We have to swing. We didn’t hit like we normally do, but that’s also because of them and the job they do with their defense and blocking.”
“We’re right there though. That’s what I told them after the match and we know if we can push through those sets and clean up some mistakes we will be where we want to.”
MHS will travel to John Marshall on Thursday while the Hawks will return to action tomorrow against Preston County.