Service woes: 4A No. 7 Marauders struggle in 3-1 loss against Fishers

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Mt. Vernon's Meredith Hohnbaum, left, Sophia Damer defend the net against Fishers High School on Monday, Sept. 28, 2021. ( Tom Russo | Daily Reporter)

FORTVILLE — With all sets being decided by three points or less, it was easy to pinpoint why the Class 4A seventh-ranked Mt. Vernon volleyball team had a tough night in a 3-1 loss to No. 11 Fishers, at home, Tuesday.

“That’s a good team that served tough and we didn’t meet the challenge of being able to pass their serves,” Mt. Vernon head coach Eric Bulmahn said.

Fishers had eight service aces to Mt. Vernon’s one. In addition, the Marauders had seven service errors.

“You should have a 1-to-1 ratio,” added the coach on aces vs. service errors, noting how a stronger service game could have changed the outcome.

Mt. Vernon (18-4) had its six-match win streak halted by set scores of 25-22, 22-25, 25-22, 28-26.

Fishers, which had a 10-match win streak earlier in the season, improved to 15-4.

“We have four veteran passers, but nobody was moving their feet to pass the ball and that was the difference in the game,” Bulmahn added. “We couldn’t keep pressure on them.

“It’s something we have to learn from.”

Even in a match where they struggled on both sides of the serving game, the Marauders still had an opportunity to force a fifth set.

There were 17 ties in the fourth and the Marauders fought off two match points before Fishers’ middle blocker JaNyah Henderson finished it off with a kill.

“We were definitely out of sorts tonight and we couldn’t stop (Henderson),” coach Bulmahn said. “They were able to run the middle because we weren’t able to put pressure on them.”

Mt. Vernon had a set point in the fourth, 26-25, following a pair of Tiger attack errors, but FHS outside hitter Carsen Plew’s successful attack led to the set’s 17th and final tie.

In the third, the Tigers led by as much as six points. Unlike the previous set, Fishers was able to hold off a Mt. Vernon comeback.

The Marauders got within one point, 18-17, scoring off a long rally. It was the closest they would get. Six times, MV got within two, but were unable to get the needed points to put them one set away from a victory.

In the second set, Fishers was in control from the outset. The Tigers scored the first two points. After Mt. Vernon tied it, 2-2, the Tigers went on to score the next four and led until the Marauder tied it, 21-21.

To get even, Mt. Vernon got momentum on back-to-back kills from middle blocker Macy Lyons, the latter a stuff at the net. It was all part of a 6-0 run that turned a 21-18 deficit to a 24-21 lead.

There were nine first-set ties until Fishers went on a 5-0 run to take a 16-12 advantage. Three of the points came on kills from Plew. Two other points came on Mt. Vernon attack errors. Plew had seven kills in the set.

On a Libby Gee-Weiler service ace, Mt. Vernon cut it to 17-16. Later in the set, down four, 23-19, MV scored the next three points. Two came on consecutive kills by Cecilia Bulmahn and Delaney Bowser, but the Tigers prevailed by scoring the final two points of the set.

Late in the first set the game was stopped mid-point due to an injury suffered by Fishers senior hitter Emya Upshaw. She did not return to the match.

Prior to the match, Cecilia Bulmahn was honored for recording her 1,500th kill, which was achieved during the team’s Sept. 18 match against Bellmont. She had a team-best 28 against Fishers. Bowser had 13 and Lyons had eight, with just one attack error.

Setter Rylee Ugen had 52 assists. Four players reached double figures in digs, led by Abby Herman with 18. Gee-Weiler had 15 and Bowser and Bulmahn each had 13.

Meredith Hohnbaum had four block assists and one solo. Lyons had three assists and a solo.

The Marauders are back in action Thursday against Shelbyville, the team’s final home match of the season. Coach Bulmahn said he is hopeful to have senior outside hitter Tatum Fitzgerald back in the lineup. She has been out with an injury.

With some tough matches still remaining on the schedule, including a regular-season ending tournament at Carmel, coach Bulmahn wants his team to learn from Tuesday’s tough loss against a quality opponent. He knows there will be plenty strong foes in the future, both in the regular season and sectional tournament.

“I hope so,” the Mt. Vernon coach said of the Tuesday tutorial. “It’s going to come down to working harder in practice. I think they started rested on their laurels.”

Fishers plays host to Greenfield-Central and Guerin Catholic on Saturday.