ANDOVER — The Pymatuning Valley volleyball team showed strength in serving on Thursday night in a Northeastern Athletic Conference volleyball match vs. Chalker.
The Lakers, behind dominant serving of Lily Pittman and Cortney Shinault , among others picked up their eighth win of the season, rolling past Chalker 25-18, 25-9, 25-19 at PV High School.
The difference between the two teams was clearly seen early in the match. PV’s ability to serve, and the Wildcats’ difficulty in returning the ball.
Pittman sparked the Lakers (8-1, 7-1 NAC) to a 6-0 run early in the first set to give her team the early advantage.
Three of Pittman’s seven serves during the run were not returned. Once the momentum starts, Pittman said everyone wanted to keep it going.
“When we start getting points from the one serve, it just starts making you want to get more,” she said. “You start serving harder, more consistent and it just takes off from there.”
Pittman scored six of the Lakers 17 aces during the match. Angolia Wiser had four, and Allie Stokes contributed three.
Shinault, who had an ace to go with six digs, said the ability to put pressure on the other team with the serve has been a big part of PV’s early season success.
“It’s something we work a lot on,” she said. “In practice, I try to focus on changing up so I know who to target. I know that sounds a little mean, but if someone is struggling to pass the ball, I kind of want to hit the ball really hard right at them.”
For coach Justin Smith, being ‘mean’ is not something he minds as long as it’s effective for his team and the way the Lakers have been serving, it definitely has been.
PV’s serving rate after Thursday night’s match is at 89.8%. They also average five aces per set.
“That has been a weapon for us all year,” Smith said. “Any of our girls are very capable of getting on a run and taking over a game. So, we are very blessed to be a good serving team.”
The strong serving is not always about not having the ball come back, though. It’s also about having it come back in a way that is easy to set up and attack.
“Once we get the ball back we can run the play that we need to,” Pittman said. “Then, get it back again, so it’s just like a cycle that keeps going.”
Smith added, “One of the things that we really work on is freeballs. When they are passing the ball back over, we try to get in our offense quickly. We try to run a quick offense so their defense has a hard time reacting.
“We were a little bit sloppy with that tonight, especially in the first set, the second set was a lot cleaner. But we work really hard on transitioning our offense and putting a lot of pressure on the other team.”
Chalker (4-5, 4-5 NAC) fell behind early in the first set, but rallied to get to within one in the teens. The Lakers, however, got a pair of 3-0 runs down the stretch.
In the second set, PV jumped out to a 7-1 lead and never looked back. Chalker was a close as 17-15 in the third, but the Lakers finished strong to close out the visitors.
Aside from the strong service game, PV received nine kills from Emily Millard and seven from Shinault. Allie Stokes aided the cause with 21 assists and Pittman added 10 digs.
Next up for PV is a trip to Conneaut on Saturday.