YORK TWP. — Don’t look now, but Buckeye’s volleyball team is finding its offense at just the right time.
After struggling to open the season, the Bucks used an up-tempo attack Thursday to sweep rival Black River 25-21, 25-13, 26-24 in a Patriot Athletic Conference clash.
It started with a balanced lineup that spiked the ball at a high rate. Buckeye (3-5, 3-1) jumped to a two-game lead and then rallied to hold off the Pirates for its second straight victory.
Meanwhile, the Pirates (6-3, 2-2) were handed their second consecutive loss.
“We started putting the ball down,” Bucks first-year coach Brittany Morris said. “I tell the girls to terminate the ball, and when we struggled tonight, we weren’t. But the girls were putting the ball away and that was helping us.
“We’re getting there. The girls are just getting so much better individually and as a team. It’s awesome to see.”
Buckeye’s hitters were on full display from the opening whistle, as they took a see-saw first game and cruised in the second.
In the third game, the Bucks rallied from a 21-16 deficit to take their first lead since the opening serve and held off the Pirates.
Those late-game comebacks are what Morris feels has been her team’s M.O.
“It stresses me out,” Morris said with a laugh. “It seems like they play well sometimes from behind and in stressful situations.”
Buckeye overcame a handful of bad possessions in the third game to put it all together with junior setter Maggie Calame at the serving line.
The hitting tandem of Maggie Galaszewski (match-high 17 kills) and Katie Galaszewski (11 kills, 15 digs, 18 assists) combined for 12 kills in the match-clinching run, with Calame serving six of her 11 points.
“We were playing more as a team today and were with each other every step of the way,” said Calame, who also had 13 of her 25 assists in the final game. “I think our serves and playing as a team are definitely coming together.
“This was good for us. I think it’s going to give us momentum. It was fun.”
Along with the Galaszewski dominating the net, junior Amy Esker added nine kills and nine points, including three aces. Emily Vozar had a pair of ace serves and nine points, along with 15 digs.
The Pirates, who won five of their first six matches, had a tough time bouncing back from an entertaining Game 1 that saw five ties and a host of lead changes.
Black River couldn’t overcome a season-high 46 unforced errors that gave way to an easy win for the Bucks in the second game.
“When we control our unforced errors and make just a few of them, we’re coming out on top, but when we make one after another, we kind of shoot ourselves in the foot,” Pirates coach Courtney Dieter said. “That’s not to take anything away from (Buckeye) because they have a solid defensive team over there, but we really did it to ourselves. We had our hands on so many balls that we just could not keep inbounds.”
Junior middle hitter Danielle Jenkins had 12 kills and two blocks. Emily Cartwright had 19 assists, while Jamie Hozan and Louise DeMarco had 15 and 10 digs, respectively.
Buckeye’s student section was out in full force, which included the group’s pregame ritual of drinking off-brand fruit juice and shouting “The juice is loose” for the entire three games.
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.