WARDSVILLE - To figure out the key to success for the Blair Oaks volleyball team Tuesday night, you have to go to the beginning.
As in the beginning of every point.
Scoring tons of points off their serve and exploiting the serves of the Battle Spartans, the Lady Falcons rolled to a 25-16, 25-9 victory.
The Lady Falcons racked up 11 aces, or two more than the number of points the Spartans won on their own serve all night.
"I was very pleased with our serving - we're strong servers all the way around," Blair Oaks coach Joy Northweather said.
Leading the way was one of the five seniors honored on Senior Night, Kaitlyn Kliethermes, who had five aces.
"Kaitlyn did a nice job tonight," Northweather said. "On Senior Night, I was very happy to get her in there. She has a great serve and I was glad she was able to showcase it."
Kliethermes had aces on the Lady Falcons' first two serves of the night to set the tone. Blair Oaks never trailed in the game, although late in the game it was still as close as 20-16.
But a net violation on Battle started a 5-0 run for Blair Oaks to end the game, with a kill by Paige Rackers finishing it out.
It was a similar story in the second game, where the Lady Falcons got six of their 11 aces. And they took advantage of Battle's serve even more. After getting a first-ball sideout on 6-of-10 chances in the opening game, the Lady Falcons made it 6-of-7 in the second one.
The key point in the game came when Battle got within 5-3. Another net violation by the Spartans gave the ball to Blair Oaks, and the Lady Falcons ripped off eight straight points on the serve of Shelbi Koelling.
"Shelbi came in and really got them back on their heels," Northweather said. "When you can serve that aggressive against a team that is struggling a little bit on serve-receive, it pretty much takes them out of all of their systems."
The lead never dipped below double digits after that.
Northweather said Blair Oaks was able to handle Battle's serves well in part because Jessica Clark, another senior, returned to the lineup after being sidelined by an illness. Clark racked up a team-high 12 digs.
"She makes a huge difference," Northweather said. "Jess has been practicing real well. She knows she had a couple games where she was not at her best, and she's come on with a new excitement. She doesn't want to let anything drop. She's all over the place, controlling things. She's reading the ball well and doing a good job."
Rackers led a balanced Blair Oaks effort with five kills, while two more of the senior honorees, Paige Stockman and Maggie Hoskins, had four and three, respectively.
"We're really excited that everybody got to contribute," Northweather said.
Sadie Turner led the team with nine assists, while Allison Maxwell had two blocks.
Taylor Strope was the other senior honored for Blair Oaks (18-2), which plays again Thursday at Rock Bridge.
In Tuesday's JV match, Blair Oaks cruised to a 25-3, 25-7 win.
Ryan Dudenhoeffer had six kills for the Lady Falcons, Jayde Peters had eight assists, Alexa Stegemann had four aces and Lanie Berhorst had two blocks.
It was a similar story in the freshman match, as Blair Oaks won 25-8, 25-3.
Montana Pecher had 10 aces for the winners, Abbie Kemna had five kills and Sidney Bernskoetter and Katy Weith had three assists each.