To say Augusta's volleyball team found the zone would be understating how well it played at the Mulvane tournament Saturday.
After winning two straight three-set matches to start the day, the Orioles put together their best volleyball of the season to beat Mulvane, Conway Springs and Winfield in straights to finish with a convincing 5-0 record and the tournament title.
“This is the best, by far, we've played all year. Even against McPherson, we weren't this good,” coach Rich Bishop said. “It's all intensity. That's all we've been working on in practice. Every drill in practice is geared toward intensity.”
Destiny Williams and Katy Nordman earned All-Tournament honors for the Orioles. Nordman was a killing machine, and Williams had her best hitting day and both served and assisted well, too.
“I definitely wasn't expecting it, but it's cool,” Nordman said.
After getting through a few sluggish sets against Kingman and the Wichita Defenders, every aspect of Augusta's play sharpened the final three matches. The Orioles served lights out—they had ace match totals of 18, 7 and 10.
The back row played its best matches of the season. Nordman said the team has a better feel for where they need to be and when to get to their spots. And their blocking up front was consistent. Senior Taylore Emond had six blocks and two other kills in those matches.
Offensively, Courtney Phillips finally found her groove. Phillips averaged six kills in the final three matches.
“Our sets are definitely improving. They were in the exact spot they needed to be,” Phillips said.
Everything really came together against Mulvane. The Orioles jumped to an 8-1 lead behind crisp passing and good serving. Casady Marlnee had a tap kill, Phillips had a pair of kills and Williams had an ace and an assist in that stretch.
Nordman had a pair of kills and Mulvane had some sloppy play as Augusta maintained its lead at 14-8. Morgan Kirk had three assists, two of them to Williams, in the next few points as the Orioles extended their lead to 18-9. Nordman later had a strong kill to win Set 1.
Augusta jumped out to a 6-1 lead in Set 2 after maybe the longest rally of the day. Robinson made some incredible serves and had three aces on way to a 10-1 Oriole lead.
“We played like we know how to instead of playing down to other people's level,” Robinson said. “And we had the intensity. Everything was good.”
Phillips and Nordman had back-to-back kills to finish off the match 25-17, 25-14. Nordman had a team-high seven kills in the match. Phillips finished with six.
Conway Springs and Augusta both were 3-0 heading into their match. The first set was tight until Phillips rattled off six straight aces—most of which weren't even dug out successfully by the Cardinals—to give the Orioles an 11-5 lead. They cruised from there.
Page 2 of 2 - In Set 2, Augusta took a 6-0 lead after two kills by Phillips, an ace by Williams and a kill by Marlnee. Robinson later had three straight aces. Kirk had two and Mariah Zerr added an ace.
Winfield and Augusta made several errors on offense to start their match. The Vikings kept it close at 23-21 before a serving error and a kill by Phillips gave the Orioles Set 1.
Marlnee had two big kills, and Williams made a diving save on a long rally that Augusta eventually won to help the Orioles take an early lead in Set 2. Winfield got close again at 14-11 until the Orioles finished on an 11-4 run to seal the match. Kirk had two aces and an assist in that stretch.
Emond's play at the net gave the Orioles a big edge. She had four blocks and one other. Zerr added two kills and two assists.
“It's all about living to the potential that we have,” Nordman said.
Augusta will play in the Buhler Triangular tonight.