Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Night and day.
That’s the difference between how Huntington played on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In Tuesday’s loss to Adena, in straight set fashion, the Huntsmen showed little energy, played without emotion and looked as if they were simply going through the motions. But just 24 hours later, the team looked as if it had pulled a 180, addressing each of those issues head on.
The result was a dominant sweep over visiting Athens by a 25-11, 25-21, 25-12 final.
“I feel like tonight, we had a little more energy. We were louder, we were up more and our hits were going down,” libero Harmony Henneberger said. “Our passes were a little rough in the beginning, but towards the end, they got better, which helped us take off in the third set and get the win.”
Most always, opponents key on Huntington’s Allison Basye and Megan Steele … and rightfully so. That duo can wreak havoc at any point in any game if they get good swings on the ball.
But Athens was forced to deal a combination of Basye, Steele, Katie Hirsch and Carly Dyer. When balance takes place within Huntington’s offense, success usually follows.
“I think it’s important [to have balance]. Most teams, they really notice Allison and Megan as our biggest hitters,” Dyer said. “They don’t really expect Katie and I, or especially [freshmen Emma Hinshaw and Jaden Lamerson] to come out of nowhere and get big hits. So I think that’s a big contribution to our team.”
In Wednesday’s first set, the Huntsmen (9-3) jumped out a 9-6 lead after Dyer logged two consecutive kills. Steele then made it a 12-7 ballgame with two straight aces before Hirsch pounded down two kills to push the lead to 16-9. Hirsch later made it 21-10 before Basye sealed the deal on a 25-11 victory.
After seizing a 7-2 lead in the second, Huntington allowed Athens to battle its way back into things at 17-17. But a 4-0 run and three late kills from Steele paved the way to a 25-21 win.
Set three was never close.
Basye made it a 6-1 game before Dyer tallied an ace to make it 11-7. The Huntsmen then pieced together a 5-0 run, making it 16-7, before Dyer put down two late kills en route to a match-clinching 25-12 win.
“We can definitely go far this year. You’ll know when we’re not playing our best because the game isn’t that good. It seems like, in those times, we’re just dead,” Henneberger said. “Tonight, with not a lot of people in the crowd, I think we held up our energy pretty well.”
Basye led all hitters with 13 kills alongside 10 digs. Steele followed with 12 kills, three aces, 12 digs and 13 assists while Hirsch ended with nine kills, seven digs and 18 assists. Dyer also helped out, totaling five kills and three aces while Henneberger tallied a team-high 14 digs.
The road ahead certainly doesn’t get easier for Huntington.
After the team hosts Piketon on Thursday, it will face Unioto, Wheelersburg and Zane Trace on consecutive days next week.
“We need to really focus in practice, make sure we’re getting rest this weekend,” Dyer said. “We need to get enough focus built up so we can come in with energy. It’s going to be a big week.”