Tyler Harris, Staff Writer
Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.
PROCTORVILLE — Some nights, you just have it.
That was the case on Tuesday for Fairland as the Dragons rolled into Rock Hill — fresh off a tough loss to Galia Academy — and took care of business.
“I think it’s a really unique instance when you have girls from all classes in school who can come out and just execute and use their volleyball IQ,” Fairland coach Mary Haynes said of her squad.
This was the definition of a team win for Fairland (4-1, 3-1 OVC), who had girls up and down its roster get got involved in the win.
The effort was led by senior setter Kalei Ngumire, who stuffed the stat sheet in the win with 23 assists, five digs and three blocks.
The match started slow for Fairland as the Dragons quickly fell behind Rock Hill by a 5-0 tally in the first set. It looked, ever so slightly, like back-to-back conference losses might’ve been on the horizon.
The Redwomen (4-4, 3-1 OVC) looked poised early and kept Fairland off-balance thanks to sisters Jlynn and Hayleigh Risner who continuously attacked the net.
After an attack from the Redwomen sailed long, Fairland returned to the service line and never looked back. The Dragons controlled the match throughout the night, aside from a brief flurry in the third set.
“We did run a few different options tonight,” Haynes explained. “We have that versatility… communication is key in this sport and they were able to pull things together and get a first ball kill to get out of the serve receive.”
That was all the momentum the Dragons needed as they seemed to be in cruise control on what seemed to be an off night for their opponent.
It was a back-and-forth game throughout but the lead stayed at five-to-nine points, favoring the Dragons, thanks to some excellent back row play led by Brooklynn Roland. The libero did a little of everything, but specialized in spoiling excellent attacks. She negated some ferocious net play across the front line, mainly, sending back kills, 15 of them to be exact.
“We spent an extended practice on net play, hand placement, and strategy, because we knew what we were up against and our girls did a great job of executing that tonight,” Haynes said.
However, Rock Hill wasn’t going to just roll over.
While the Dragons led 12-7 in the third, they let their guard down for just a moment and the Redwomen stormed through, going on a 7-3 run and cutting the lead to 15-14.
Fairland took back control, thanks to the familiar duo of Ngumire and Kylee Bruce, who connected for three straight kills to push the lead to 20-16 late. The Redwomen had one more flurry of points, thanks to two nifty serves from senior Shaylin Matney, and three kills from sophomore outside hitter Lola Hankins, which gave Rock Hill its first lead at 21-20.
Cue Kylee Bruce again, who then posted a kill and a block to give the Dragons the lead for good before they closed out the third set by a 25-22 final.
The Dragons were led by Ngumire, who finished with 23 assists, five digs and three blocks. Bruce helped out with eight kills and four blocks while outside hitter Alyssa Burcham chipped in with five kills and four blocks. Roland was the defensive anchor, notching eight digs and three kills.
The Dragons had seven players record a kill in the contest.
Rock Hill was led by Hankins’ 11 digs and seven kills, while setter Grace Hunt had 16 assists and five digs. Matney and Riley Daniels were excellent defensively with seven and 11 digs, respectively. Hayleigh Risner led the way at the net with three blocks and added three kills while Jlynn Risner totaled six kills.
Fairland will play host to OVC foe Ironton on Thursday while Rock Hill will welcome Portsmouth that same night in an OVC tilt of their own.