GREENFIELD — It had ups and downs, but the Greenfield-Central Cougars got what they were looking for.
With three matches in three nights, coach Jon Vernon challenged his team to go 3-0.
The mission was accomplished after a 3-1 victory over Hancock County rival Eastern Hancock on Thursday at Dellen Automotive Gymnasium.
The Cougars won by set scores of 25-10, 25-17, 22-25, 25-15.
Thursday’s home victory followed a pair of long road trips. On Tuesday, the Cougars won 3-1 at Connersville. On Wednesday, they defeated Richmond 3-0.
“This was our third game in three nights,” Vernon said. “We’ve been on the road and I thought we came out and played well the first two sets. I thought we were aggressive.”
Vernon thought some of the wear and tear of a long week and late nights took its toll in the third. To add to the adversity of a long week and improved play from the Royals, senior Taylor Hughes left in the second set with an injury.
“They had to catch their bearings,” Vernon said. “I’m pleased with the way they came back in the third set and didn’t just falter. We came back strong in the fourth set.”
G-C junior hitter Mya Grigsby helped get the Cougars out to a 2-0 lead. She had 10 second-set kills and finished with a match-best 22. She had a team-best four service aces.
After a couple of difficult sets, Eastern Hancock coach Cory Rainbolt decided to change her lineup. She was looking for some spark and energy.
In the third set, the Royals took a 7-6 lead and led by as much as seven, 19-12, before the Cougars made it close at the end. The Cougars tied it at 21 and took a 22-21 lead on a Grigsby service ace before the Royals finished it off with the final four points.
Brooklyn Willis had a service ace to give Eastern Hancock a 23-22 lead. Sydney Hayes also had a kill for one of the final points of the set.
“We went from a 6-2 (offense) to a 5-1 and I brought in a different lineup,” Royals head coach Cory Rainbolt said. “We went with the girls that were bringing the energy – Alivia Coffin, Hayes, Kaitlyn Lowes – and we didn’t sub as much.”
It appeared Eastern Hancock might take that momentum all the way to forcing a fifth set. The Royals led early in the fourth and as late as 9-8 on a Carlyn Blue service ace.
The Cougars tied it on a Rilee Roland kill and went up 10-9 on an ace from Makenna Rankins. Tied at 10-10, G-C went on a 7-1 run, which included kills from Roland and Emma Berty.
G-C setter Rankins finnished with 41 assists. Avery Roberts had eight digs.
The third straight win gives the Cougars a 4-2 overall record. They will open Hoosier Heritage Conference play Tuesday at Delta.
Eastern Hancock dropped to 3-8. It was the Royals fourth straight loss.
Lowes led the Royals with five kills. Willis and Blue had two kills each. Hayden Collins had six digs and one ace.
“We’re still trying to find out who is willing to put it out every game, every match, and be our go-to person,” Rainbolt said.
The Royals play host to Shenandoah Tuesday.