Undone by inconsistency, a talented Constantine volleyball team’s season ended abruptly Monday night in the first round of Class C districts. Decatur grounded the Falcons 22-25, 25-17, 25-15, 19-25, 15-7 at Centreville.
Head coach Niki Tulley’s squad seemingly regained control of the match with an aggressive effort in the fourth set — one that had Decatur coach Justin Rosema visibly perplexed. Tied at 13-13, the Falcons pulled away with a kill by junior Danica Lucas, a tipped ball by junior Zoe Jones and a Jessica Mallo (junior) spike. Jones was on fire the rest of the set, adding a couple more critical kills.
Then everything unraveled quickly in the fifth game. The Raiders jumped out to a 7-0 advantage and put the Falcons away when Anna Ashley served an ace for match point.
“I had no reason to think we wouldn’t come out the winners of that game, but I knew going into it they were scrappy on defense. They were tonight,” said Tulley, whose team finished the year 26-16-2.
“The girls did everything I asked them to do and we worked on it all week. Our wings have been creeping in the middle of the court [previously] and they stayed wide. My blockers were finally touching balls. They just dug up everything we hit. We were attacking like we had been working on and weren’t hesitant. They just played defense. I don’t know what happened that last game, honestly. I think they just started thinking that this may be it and just kind of got mental about it.”
Jones ended the night with 16 kills and 21 digs and Lexie Harrison added 15 kills, 22 digs and a block. Lucas posted eight kills, 32 digs and a pair of aces, Cassie Wentela recorded 44 assists, 12 digs and a block, Michelle Smith had 19 digs and two aces, Jordan Smith added nine digs, Kelsey Potter registered eight digs and Mallo tallied 11 kills, 20 digs and a block.
Visit the Scoreboard page for full match statistics.
“We let them get on a run; we weren’t controlling the game,” Mallo said. “It was a tough loss, but looking at what we’ve accomplished is great. Even though we came out with a loss, we played a great game. Our hitters were being aggressive, our defense was all over digging up balls and our setter had a great night. I couldn’t be more proud of the team; we had a great season.”