FAIRBORN — Now halfway through its divisional matches, the Fairborn Skyhawks girls high school volleyball team has served notice that they are the team to beat in the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s American South division.
Fairborn defeated defending GWOC American South champion Xenia in straight sets Sept. 5 by scores of 25-21, 25-11, 25-15.
With the win, the Skyhawks are now 4-0 in the division with head-to-head match wins over division rivals Riverside Stebbins, Trotwood-Madison, West Carrollton, and now Xenia.
Skyhawks coach Tiffany Andrews said her team may have been a little bit nervous about this match.
“This was a big day for our girls. Xenia was the GWOC South champs last year, and our goal is to win that title. And they’re really striving for it. A lot of our serves were missed strongwise. They were trying to put a little more oomph into their serves, because they really wanted this game,” she said.
Nerves may have affected both squads, especially from behind the service line, as the two teams combined for 23 service errors — 10 against Fairborn, 13 against Xenia.
Xenia (2-3, 1-2 GWOC American South) led 7-6 in the opening set, but the combination of strong serves by Skyhawks sophomore Darby Ballard with the kills from Kayleigh Finlayson rallied Fairborn to an 8-7 lead. Xenia’s Heidi Alex bashed a kill to knot the set at 8-all but then a rightside kill from Darby Ballard, followed by another smash from Finlayson, put the Skyhawks out in front for good in the first set and an eventual 25-21 win.
With strong opening serves from junior Elena North, Fairborn ( jumped out in front 4-0 in Set Two. The closest Xenia got in the set was 6-3, but the Skyhawks outscored the Buccaneers 19-6 the rest of the way to win that set, 25-11.
The third and final set saw Xenia jump out to a 2-0 lead thanks to an opening service ace from Megan Brewer and a Fairborn net violation. But Fairborn evened the set at 4-4, then took the lead for good on another Finlayson bash, a Finlayson tip and two Hani Sampson service aces.
Xenia got to within five points of the set lead when junior setter Skylar Throop placed a nifty quickset down the right line for a score, but Fairborn closed out the match with a 5-1 run.
Finlayson led Fairborn with nine kills and a service ace, Ballard had four kills, and Jessica Black finished with four service aces and four kills.
Xenia’s Heidi Alex led the Bucs with three kills and two service aces. The rest of the team combined for five kills and two aces.
“This was just a rough night for us. We’ve just gotta go back to the drawing board,” Xenia coach Jessica Threats said. “I mean, I’m confident in our ability to play with Fairborn, and it helps to know that we’ll play them again (in the season’s final regular season match, Oct. 12 at XHS). We just have to learn from tonight. We had a lot of service errors that took our momentum away. A lot of our own errors shifted the game Fairborn’s way. We’ll work on it.”
Fairborn has its next match at 7 p.m. Thursday Sept. 7 at Vandalia Butler, while Xenia returns home for a 7 p.m. match Thursday Sept. 7 against Tipp City Tippecanoe.