XENIA – A tough challenge presented itself in front of the Xenia volleyball team Tuesday as it begins its toughest stretch of the season.
Up first was Tippecanoe, which showed off its strong prowess with a resounding 25-14, 25-11, 25-17 victory.
“Tipp is a great team,” Xenia head coach Jessica Threats said. “They have a much quicker offense. We just have a younger team and we’re trying to get them to pick up the speed and pick up the pace. We just got to continue to get better and take it match by match.”
Xenia came off its own dominant win at West Carrollton on Monday in straight sets but struggled from the outset against the Red Devils.
The Bucs showed off some fight in the third set though while keeping the score close at 17-13. Xenia kept the door open to possibly extend the match by trading several points, but Tippecanoe won four of the final five points to close things out.
The team’s seniors led Xenia in most categories. Jada McAvene had nine kills and nine digs, Haley McManus had 12 assists and six digs, and Sydney Shuttleworth added 15 digs.
Tippecanoe entered the match ranked in a tie for No. 10 in the OHSVCA state poll and now have an 11-1 overall record and are 9-1 in Miami Valley League play.
The height and offensive efficiency on display by the Red Devils showed off how they have achieved that record.
“I think we will play them better on Saturday now that we’ve actually seen them once,” Threats said. “Adjusting to the height of the hands at the net, they take away some key angles and you’ve really got to be able to cut the line and they just have an ability to get their hands on it.”
Xenia fell behind in the opening set 7-3 before settling into the match. After trading points to 10-6, the Red Devils pounced with a 6-2 run to build up a lead.
McManus was able to bring Xenia back to 17-13 after a five-point service run, but Tippecanoe won eight of the next nine points to close out the set.
“Our offense didn’t really have much to go with tonight,” Threats said. “They have big hands at the net, but they did very well with what they had during possession.”
In the second set, Xenia had service with Tippecanoe leading 5-4. Failing to maintain it though began a 15-4 run which put Tippecanoe in firm control of the set and the match.
“We just need to pick up our pace and play points all the way through,” Threats said. “There were some of those balls that we thought were down, and then they would magically pop it up.”
Tippecanoe also took the reserve contest in straight sets.
Xenia next travels to league leader Troy on Thursday as its tough stretch of play within the MVL continues. The Bucs sit at 3-5 in the MVL, only behind Valley Division leader Fairborn, which is 6-5.
“We had some matches pushed back and that’s making the schedule really heavier toward the end,” Threats said. “I think for us, we take our good possessions and try to use momentum from them to push us forward. We have a lot of conference matches to play, so we can still potentially win our side of the divisions. That means that we are just focused on that goal.”