By Colin Harris | Staff Writer
Southeast volleyball got up on someone for a change.
After dropping the first set in two of their last three wins, the Pirates came out strong on Tuesday and swept the Waterloo Vikings, 25-15, 25-21, 25-18 in a battle of defending Potage Trail Conference County Division co-champs.
Ultimately, dropping the first set in consecutive wins over Woodridge and Streetsboro did not hinder the Pirates (4-2 overall, 3-0 PTC County) from making a comeback, but Pirates veteran head coach Mary Tarka said the change in urgency to begin the game was a refreshing one.
"It's nice to beat our co-champs in Waterloo, but it's nice to be able to come out and win our first (set)," Tarka said. "This season it seems like we've been losing out first games a lot and then we've been forced to have to comeback."
There was no such rally needed on Tuesday, as the Pirates jumped out early on Waterloo (1-5 overall), building an 18-10 lead during the first set. Danielle Norquest helped the Pirates in building that lead, recording a kill to tie the game at 6-6, then serving for the next five points as Southeast built an early cushion.
Brittany Butcher recorded two consecutive points during the run at 12-7 and 13-7, while a number of Waterloo errors and miscommunications combined to put Southeast in the driver's seat during the first set.
Ahead 22-13, Butcher and Norquest recorded kills to inch Southeast closer to set point, before a Maddie Willis tip at the net gave the Pirates a 25-15 victory.
Southeast built another commanding lead in the second set, amassing a 20-11 edge on the strength of kills from Savannah Woodard, Nikki Romosca and Butcher, as well as consecutive aces by Butcher at 16-8 and 17-8 in the set.
Trailing by nine, Waterloo put together its best run of the evening with six straight points to cut the Pirates' lead to four. Southeast committed a pair of errors, while Julie Podnar (tip), Tabby Moore (block) and Brooke Collins (tip) each made plays to keep the Vikings in the game.
Ultimately, though, errors again cost Waterloo as wild kill tries and miscommunications set the table for a Butcher set-point kill to give Southeast a 25-21 victory.
The third set was again all Pirates, as a number of players -- led by Butcher and Norquest -- helped hold off Waterloo for a 25-18 Southeast win.
Butcher had a great game for the Pirates, recording 11 kills, four aces and three assists. Norquest helped out with seven kills and four aces, while Willis directed the net attack with 17 assists and added three aces. Woodard was also a force at the net, matching Butcher in kills with 11, while saving 11 digs for the Pirates.
Waterloo was led by Megan Gibson, who recorded five kills to go along with two aces. Haley James also posted 13 digs in a losing effort.
The Vikings were without senior Haley Hurd, who missed the game for a family funeral.
While Waterloo missed Hurd's senior leadership in the lineup, Vikings head coach Kevin Canterbury said his team still has a list of things to improve on before it reaches last year's championship form.
"We're struggling because we're starting a lot of inexperienced players, but we're getting better every week," Canterbury said. "We're making a lot of young errors like missing serves or not finishing plays right now.
"Even though we have four seniors, we played so many seniors last year, that we're actually an older team that is pretty inexperienced right now," Canterbury said.
Facebook: Colin Harris, Record-Courier