John Bruce, Contributor
FRANKFORT — Coming into Tuesday’s match as two of the Scioto Valley Conference’s youngest teams, both Adena and Zane Trace knew that a fast start would be imperative to earning a win.
But while both teams were aware of that fact, the Warriors were the team to take advantage of it, using a burst out of the gate to carry themselves throughout the entire match.
Adena’s roster features just three upperclassmen (one senior and two juniors). With Tuesday’s straight set set victory over the Pioneers, it seems the Warriors’ underclassmen have put the rest of the league on notice … Adena is back, and in a big way.
“It’s very important to get off to a good start. Usually, we have trouble starting. It doesn’t end well,” Makenna Lovely said. “When we get off to a good start, it usually goes pretty well.”
The Warriors (5-3, 4-1 SVC) got off to a quick start behind the Lovely sisters, Makaela and Makenna, and excellent front row play by Ellie Harper and Hannah Burns. After forcing Zane Trace (5-3, 3-2 SVC) to call a timeout in the first set and leading 17-10, Adena maintained and extended its lead until eventually finishing off the first set by a 25-16 final.
The Warriors displayed great passing, effort, and communication throughout the first and it only continued into the second.
Adena stormed out to a 12-3 lead in the second. One of the three points for the Pioneers came after an unbelievable individual play by Adena’s Jenna Martin as the sophomore blocked four consecutive attacks at the net. Even though Adena eventually lost the point, Martin’s stellar play seemed to inspire the Warriors’ effort that much more.
Lovely, Makenna this time, hammered down back-to-back kills, while Martin served up an ace to extend the lead. Camryn Carroll finished off a 25-12 second set victory with an ace of her own.
To start the third, it appeared the script would stay the same as Adena jumped out to a 5-2 lead. However, the Pioneers finally showed some fight.
Junior libero Lexi Betts displayed outstanding tenacity to keep plays alive in the back row, and a big time kill from Alli Bennett would knot the third set up at 8-8.
But it wasn’t meant to be for the Pioneers as Adena slowly continued to build a lead behind the setting of Makaela Lovely and Ari DaRif, eventually seizing a 24-16 edge.
The Pioneers had one final run in them, winning seven consecutive points before eventually succumbing to the Warriors, 25-23, ending the match.
Adena’s defense was the true star of the evening, with great front row blocking from Martin, Harper, and Sydney Fogelsong, along with solid back row passing from Olivia Riley, Carroll, and DaRif. The Lovely sisters displayed outstanding athleticism and instincts, while the serving prowess of Hope Garrison, Makaela Lovely, Martin, and Carroll gave the Warriors a distinct advantage all night long.
Bennett led the Pioneers with six kills, eight assists and seven digs while Emily Allen posted five kills and six block assists. Betts ended the evening with 17 digs, Laynee Hill had 10 digs, and Emily Harber tallied seven digs.
Adena was led by Makenna Lovely, who had 11 kills and eight digs while Makaela Lovely ended with 22 assists. DaRif logged 16 assists and 14 digs, Martin posted 11 kills and two aces, Harper ended with nine kills, and Riley had 18 digs.
Zane Trace struggled to get going throughout the evening, but has a chance to get a bounceback win on Thursday, traveling to Piketon.
Adena travels to Williamsport, with momentum, the same night to take on the league-leading Westfall Mustangs in another key SVC match.
“It’s important for us to get these good wins,” Makenna Lovely said. “It builds our confidence and it helps us play more as a team. We all get excited and and we earn momentum.”