Huntington volleyball
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Derrick Webb

Derrick is SOSA's chief content coordinator and has worked for the Chillicothe Gazette, the Portsmouth Daily Times and Eleven Warriors. He's a 13-time award-winning journalist, a self-proclaimed baseball purist, a suffering Bengals fan and has never met a stranger.

Huntington uses momentum, energy to sweep Notre Dame

Huntington rode momentum and energy to a win on Thursday.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

CHILLICOTHE — Confidence seems to not be an issue for Huntington’s volleyball program — especially when the team plays like it did on Thursday.

In a marquee non-league matchup, using earned momentum and energy, the Huntsmen (3-0) made quick work of Notre Dame in a 25-23, 25-23, 25-18 victory.

Huntington’s Meredith Hirsch helped the Huntsmen sweep Notre Dame, Thursday.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

All night long, coach Jackie Stauffer’s roster sported smiles. It made all the difference in the world.

“This is something we’ve been talking about since last year when I came in as the first-year coach with a group of new varsity players,” Stauffer said. “We’ve been really pushing for that camaraderie as a team. We have confidence and we’ve been trying to get that swagger all summer. We feel like we are the team that others need to prepare for, especially on our home court.”

The unquestioned leader of that movement was, and has been, junior Kaci Carroll. 

Carroll consistently picked up her teammates in down moments and provided electricity at the net, helping to stymie any Notre Dame rally.

“A leader is something you have to have out there,” Stauffer said. “When you get in those funks, you have to have someone out there that pulls the team together. I’ve talked with Kaci about that and I’ve told her, ‘You are that girl.’ We want her to make sure she’s not just putting the balls down, but helping everybody else stay up. She’s really gotten into that role this year. You can see it … the confidence in her rising and in the other girls.”

Tale of the tape

After allowing Notre Dame (0-1) to take a 17-15 in the middle of the first set, Huntington retook the lead at 21-19 and never looked back. 

An ace from Leah McCloskey made it a 23-21 lead before Carroll powered the game-winning kill to the floor to give the Huntsmen a 1-0 lead in the match.

PHOTOS: Images from Huntington’s win over Notre Dame

Picking up where it left off in the first, Huntington raced out to an 8-4 lead in the second behind the hot hand of Emma Hinshaw. The senior continued to find holes in ND’s defense while being flanked by Meredith Hirsch at the net, making it a 15-10 advantage midway through.

Later, Hinshaw logged an ace to make it 21-16 before Haleigh Stangle got in on the action, pushing the edge to seven at 23-16. But that’s when the Titans decided to fight back. A 7-0 run, powered by Bree Hicks and Katie Strickland, evened the score late.

“I knew tonight was going to be a tough game,” Stauffer said. “So I told the girls, ‘This is your test. Going into our league, we’re going to play teams just like this one. You have to finish, from the very start to the very end.’ I really thought we did that tonight.”

Finishing out the win in the second was Haleigh Stangle, who dinked a ball into open floor to put her team up 2-0.

Hicks gave Notre Dame an early lead in the third, tallying back-to-back points for an 8-5 edge, but Hinshaw and Carroll teamed up to put Huntington on top at 16-15. Carroll then finished a 5-0 run, making it 20-15, before Huntington put a win on the board.

“I’m super excited. Having multiple options makes things so much easier for our team, but also tougher for our opponents,” Stauffer said. “They can’t really game plan because they don’t know what we’re doing offensively and coming from. We’ve been pushing ourselves offensively and trying some new things. I think it’s going well.”

What’s on tap

While Notre Dame continues to search for its first win on Tuesday, hosting Symmes Valley in Southern Ohio Conference play. Meanwhile, Huntington is back in action on Saturday, playing host to Fairfield before beginning Scioto Valley Conference action on Tuesday.

“I think we can [win the SVC]. I’ve been telling the girls all offseason, “Have that confidence and know that we can do it.’ We should be who teams are preparing for,” Stauffer said. “We have a lot of returning starters, we have that maturity and we have options. So I feel like going into conference play, we are the team that needs to be planned for. I want us to have that confidence. We have a tough league and you never know but I think we have a good shot.”


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