Neuqua Valley bounces back to defeat MeteaMetea Valley's Jaeme Cruz spikes the ball between Neuqua Valley's Taylor McKeown (15), and Leighanne Novak (13) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 at Metea Valley High School in Aurora. Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Metea Valley still hasn’t beaten rival Neuqua Valley in varsity girls volleyball, but Tuesday the upstart Mustangs let the Wildcats know that they were in a battle.
The Mustangs won the first game 26-24, before the more experienced Wildcats took control and won straight games 25-23, 25-19 to come away with an Upstate Eight Conference victory.
“Metea Valley wasn’t backing down,” said Neuqua Valley coach Kelly Simon. “I was relieved when it was over.”
The host Mustangs (14-4-1, 2-1) were pumped from the opening serve as they scored the first four points and set the tempo for Game 1. They led throughout, once by eight points, and resisted a Wildcats (15-7, 3-0) charge at the end that narrowed the margin to one point several times.
“Metea came out blazing with a lot of firepower and drive,” Simons said.
“We were a little frazzled at the beginning,” said Neuqua Valley’s Cassie Collins. “They put a lot of pressure on us but that motivated us to do better. After the first game our passing was better and we were able to get it to our big hitters.”
According to Simon, the Wildcats took control around point 10 of the second game. They stayed in the lead until the Mustangs went ahead 21-20. But, a couple of big blocks, one by Leighanne Novak and one by Callie Huebener, put Neuqua back in the driver’s seat and forced a game 3.
The rubber game was close early on with Neuqua holding a narrow margin, but Metea Valley tied it at 13-13, before a 9-1 Neuqua Valley run sealed the victory.
“Our blocking needed to come on and it did,” said Simon. “We had to adjust our timing to the attack and our blocking was better. And we stopped missing serves and committing net violations. We were cleaner and a little more solid later in the match. We had a nice balance to our attack.”
Huebener and Brooke Antenen led the Wildcats with eight kills apiece and Taylor McKeown added six. Huebener was the dig-leader with 18 and Antenen came up with eight. Leighanne Novak put away three aces, while Antenen had 16 assists and Collins 12.
Metea Valley coach James Milkert thought his team took one huge step closer to where they want to be by playing Neuqua Valley so tough, but he was not satisfied with the end of the match.
“We established ourselves as a program to be reckoned with,” Milkert said. “But they were more experienced and it showed. They did a great job of exposing a couple of our team weaknesses. And they really served tough, especially with a few deep corner serves.”
Brianne Honda had 10 kills for the Mustangs, while Jessica Boddy had eight kills, three blocks and two aces. Alyssa Ensminger had nine digs.