ORWELL — Grand Valley senior Barbara Jackson said this year’s Mustangs volleyball squad is “building a family.”
They may also be building a special season.
Jackson and the Mustangs continued their undefeated run to start the season Tuesday evening by knocking off Richmond Heights 25-13, 26-24, 25-15 at GV High School. The win moves their record to 7-0, 4-0 in the CVC.
Aside from Jackson, fellow seniors Hallie Soltis and Rylie Pucel both agreed that the continuity amongst the team has been a major factor for success.
“We have a real good chemistry on this team,” Soltis said. “Even when we’re getting down, one person can say, ‘Hey, we can do this,’ then everybody gets up.”
Against the Spartans (3-6), that chemistry was on display in the second set, as the Mustangs squandered an early lead, but came together down the stretch to get the win.
Though they’re yet to lose a match, things have not always been easy. Often times this season, matches have gone five sets, but Pucel said the group has been together since seventh grade and knowing each other the way they do means everything in those icy situations.
“It helps a lot,” she said. “‘With Barbara hitting, and me setting, we have a good setter-hitter connection. We always feel pretty confident in each other. Nobody really panics about anything.”
The right arm of Jackson may invoke the most confidence. Against the Spartans, the outside hitter had 15 kills, including a crucial one in the second set; part of a 4-0 run that sparked the win as well as command of the match.
Delivering big hits and shifting momentum has become a role she knows she needs to fill on the team.
“When they (the opposition) goes on a run, and we get down, that’s when I think ‘We need to change this now,’” she said. “When we make a big move, everyone else gets pumped up.”
Seeing the calmness and ability to come together when they need it most gets their coach a little pumped up, as well.
“The girls work really well together,” second-year coach Anna Applebee said. “They’ve been playing together for a long time and they know each other well enough that in the big plays and the big moments, they can make it happen together.”
The Mustangs took control of the match in the first set thanks to a 7-0 run, in which Soltis had six serving points and Jackson added three kills.
They led the second set early, as well, going up 9-4. The Spartans, however, fought back to take a 21-20 advantage. GV rallied with four straight points. Aside from Jackson, Brandy Smith added a kill on an assist from Pucel.
The third set was close early, but the Mustangs pulled away with a 5-0 run to go ahead 17-11. Richmond Heights trimmed it to 19-15, but GV answered back with a 6-0 run for the win.
Next up, GV will put its undefeated record on the line Thursday night when it travels to Cardinal to face the Huskies.