‘Hunted’ Tigers shrug off slow start

PHOTO BY MATT NYE Seneca East’s Mallory Beamer (19) attacks against the defense of Carey’s Bailey Tanner (6) and Sadie Arend Thursday in Attica.

ATTICA — Seneca East volleyball is in a position it hasn’t been in a while.

The Tigers — who trail just Buckeye Central by one match in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference — are getting every team’s best shot this season.

That included Thursday when a young Carey squad ran away with the first set 25-19.

However, the Tigers woke up in the second set and started to execute, which led to a 25-16, 25-19, 25-18 rest of the match for the Tigers, who notched their 10th win of the season.

“Every team sees our record now and you have a bullseye on your head at that point,” SE coach Greg Hendrix said. “We have to realize that everybody is going to bring us their A game now. We aren’t going to catch anyone off guard anymore.

“I just told the girls we have to come out stronger and not let these teams realize that they might be able to play with you.”

Seneca East’s Katrina Kagy started the contest with a kill, but Carey (5-8, 4-5 N10) led pretty much the whole first set behind strong play from senior McKenzie Row, who recorded her 1,000th dig in the second set.

Seneca East (10-3, 8-1) got within 21-17 after a Jessica Bowerman kill, but couldn’t close the gap.

The Tigers responded well, though, with a fast start in the second set. Megan Rife served two aces and Kagy and Bowerman each had a kill to give the Tigers a 5-0 advantage. The lead grew to 12-3 before Carey started to make a slight comeback, but couldn’t get out of the hole.

The Tigers served really well and aggressively to get back into the match. Rife had another ace and Hillary Bogner tallied two in a row in the second set.

“The senior (Rife) went out there and gave us that boost after we came out flat in the first set,” Hendrix said. “We came out there and were able to keep the pressure on them from there, but our serving got a lot more aggressive to keep them our of system. They have some really nice hitters and you’ve got to put pressure on their back row to keep them out of system and after the first set I feel like we did a good job of that.”

The third set was knotted at 4 before the Tigers went on a 12-3 scoring run to open up the lead and finish off the Blue Devils. Alexis Hicks tallied three of her six blocks in the match in the third set as the Tigers limited Carey’s hitters at the net.

“Our two middles did a phenomenal job of controlling that net. That’s their goal every time they know what their job is,” Hendrix said of Hicks and Kagy. “I think between the two of them they had about 14 blocks tonight. That is absolutely incredible, I couldn’t ask for more out of those two.

“We are pushing and are in uncharted waters. We aren’t used to be the team that’s being chased. We’ve got to learn how to learn how to play with that target on our back.”

The do-it-all Bowerman showed up in a big way in the fourth set to put the Blue Devils away.

She compiled five kills and three aces in the set, which was tight throughout until a Bowerman ace made the score 20-15 in favor of the Tigers, which was too much to overcome for the Blue Devils.

Overall, Bowerman collected 13 kills, 16 assists, three aces and 14 digs.

“I call her Captain America. The kid just does absolutely everything and with zero ego,” Hendrix said of his talented junior. “The kid is a coach’s dream and there isn’t a stat on the stat sheet that she won’t stuff because she is perpetual motion … she doesn’t stop. We always preach to these kids it’s all about intensity — vocally, physically and mentally — and that kid has all three of them in aces.”

Tori Fritz added six kills and 15 digs for the Tigers, who take on first-place Buckeye Central Tuesday. Kagy slammed seven blocks, Rife tallied four aces, 14 assists and 10 digs, Lauren Bogner made 27 digs, Hillary Bogner had 12 digs and three aces and Emily Siesel made seven digs.

For Carey, Row delivered 14 kills and 26 digs, Bailey Tanner recorded seven kills, Addi Miller had four kills, Alaina Tiell and Sadie Arend (1 block) both had five kills and Emma Wagner dished 34 assists and made 27 digs. Ellison Roark made 26 digs and Makenzie Snyder finished with 11 digs.