FORTVILLE — Sometimes to be your best, you have to take a step back.
After dropping a tough 3-0 loss to rival Yorktown last week, that’s exactly what the Mt. Vernon volleyball team did, and it paid off in its 3-0 sweep against Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Greenfield-Central on Tuesday night.
“I actually showed them for the first time all year, film of their match,” Mt. Vernon head coach Eric Bulmahn said. “We all sat down and watched that Yorktown match, so they could see themselves. It was the worst hitting match we’ve had. Ever since than it’s been 100 percent.”
Rediscovering their swagger with an eight-set sweep at the Harrison Classic on Saturday, the Marauders’ momentum carried into their match with Greenfield-Central as they ran their streak to 11 straight.
Their longest set run of the season spanned 15 before losing to Delta 3-0 on Sept. 3 — their first of only two losses this season.
Against the Cougars, their steady attack up front and stout back row defense secured a 25-19, 25-18, 25-20 victory.
Outside hitter Jaclyn Bulmahn led the offense with 19 kills. Mary Grace Ertel followed with 13 kills.
Meridian Eads and Aston Barr set the table with 16 and 19 assists, respectively, but the Marauders defense is what neutralized the Cougars’ 5-foot-10 heavy hitters with numerous timely digs.
“We’ve been working a lot on that. They’ve been working really hard on that,” Bulmahn remarked on team defense. “Coaches can only push so hard, they’ve been pushing themselves.”
Julia Wayer recorded 33 digs at an average of 11 per set. Barr backed her up with 11 digs, which limited several kill opportunities for Greenfield-Central’s Rachel Irbe and Co.
Despite the Marauders’ stranglehold defense, the Cougars battled, leading the first two sets behind a strong showing from Irbe, Madison Wise, Molly Broome and Courtney Marchello.
Greenfield-Central went up 8-5 in the first set with an Irbe serving ace and led 10-8 with one of her 11 kills.
The first set showcased five ties and two lead changes.
The second set involved seven ties and four lead changes with the Cougars holding a 4-1 and 9-6 lead before the Marauders went on a 11-4 run to win it.
Marchello kept the Marauders at bay routinely with heads-up digs against line drive kill attempts from Bulmahn and Ertel, which gave her team rally opportunities.
Starting at libero, Marchello was a starting setter for the Cougars earlier this season, but she recently volunteered to make the change to help the team.
It came into play despite the loss, said Greenfield-Central head coach Deena Batton, and will only help the team the rest of the season.
“Marchello is going to play setter in college, but she stepped up and said, ‘If I need to play libero for the team, I will.’ That’s been huge,” Batton said. “What dedication to her team. I think it speaks volumes for what she believes in for the team.”
Mt. Vernon improved to 12-2 and 2-2 in the HHC with the win. Greenfield-Central dropped to 4-6 and 0-4 in the conference.