It was a slow start Monday night for the Helias Lady Crusaders and the Capital City Lady Cavaliers. The momentum was there for the taking.
Helias took it, and then never let go.
"We need to be, not just physically ready, but mentally ready to start a match," Helias coach Davis Harris said after the Lady Crusaders' 25-16, 25-4, 25-8 win at Capital City High School. "I don't think we were really mentally ready to start the match tonight, but after a few points in, we got our focus and intensity back."
The match started with service errors by each team. Six of the first eight points recorded were due to errors.
Capital City led 5-3, but Helias answered with a block by Sydney Mingucci and an ace by Lacey Heidbrink. Then a kill by Jacie Buschjost triggered an 11-1 run for the Lady Crusaders to make the score 16-7.
"It took them a little bit, but we got the ship righted and were able to finish out the match pretty well," Harris said.
Helias led 24-10 after a Capital City attack error, but a service error gave possession back to the Lady Cavaliers.
Capital City's Ava Meinhardt made the most of that opportunity, recording five straight service points, including three aces on balls that clipped the top of the net and dropped to the court in the middle of the Helias defense.
"All we have to do it put it into play and allow them to make some mistakes," Capital City coach Kelsey Vogler said.
In the second set, Kiara Strayhorn had an early kill for the Lady Cavaliers, but it was all Lady Crusaders after that. Kendal Saucier had 14 consecutive service points for Helias, stretching a 5-2 lead to 19-2.
"We want to serve tough," Harris said. "In the second and third sets, I thought our serving was really, really good. We were hitting the zones that we were wanting to hit."
Harris was pleased with his team's serve-receive in the final two sets. Capital City did not score any points off its serve in the second set, then Helias got a first-ball side out five out of six times in the third set.
"I'll take that percentage any day," Harris said.
Helias began the third set on an 8-0 run. After an attack error, Cate Albertson and Grace Verslues each had a kill, then Heidbrink served an ace to make the score 13-1.
Capital City improved its offense in the third set, getting kills from Strayhorn, Grace Marshall and Ruby Sprenger. However, the Lady Cavaliers still finished the match with 31 attack errors.
"We could not get the ball back onto their side of the court," Vogler said.
Vogler said Monday's match mirrored Capital City's performance Saturday at the Hickman Tournament: a good start and a good finish, with some struggles in the middle.
"We have to put the whole game together," Vogler said. "It seems like we have a night where we can't get our serve-receive, but we can get kills on every single hit we go up against. Being able to do both, to get our defensive game and offensive game all in one, is going to be where we start finding success."
Buschjost and Chapel Dobbs each had 10 kills to lead Helias, while Landrey VanOverschelde had 13 assists. Heidbrink finished with nine digs, and Verslues and Saucier had 15 and 14 service points, respectively, in the first meeting between the two teams.
"This is the first time we've been in this gym," Harris said. "It's the first time we've played them and it's our second conference match. Several things are still new, and we're trying to get used to it."
Strayhorn had five kills to lead Capital City, while Marshall had five assists. Duran Earleywine tallied eight digs.
Helias (7-1, 2-0 CMAC) hosts Pleasant Hill today for Senior Night. The freshman and JV matches start at 4:30 p.m., followed by the varsity match at 5:45 p.m.
Capital City (0-8-1, 0-2 CMAC) hosts Warrensburg on Thursday. The freshman and JV matches start at 5:30 p.m., followed by the varsity match at 6:45 p.m.
In the JV match, Helias defeated Capital City 25-7, 25-13.
Tori Schmidt and Kambrie Lenox had eight and six aces, respectively, for Helias (3-0), while Lenox and Faith Ann Meyer each had three kills. Hannah Luetkemeyer tallied six digs and Summer Hake had two blocks.
Michelyn Appiah posted two kills for Capital City (1-4).
Helias also won the freshman match 25-5, 25-6 to improve to 8-1. Maryn Randolph and Addisyn Bryant each had 11 service points for the Lady Crusaders, while Madison Kempker had three kills and Elise Lauf added three digs. Randolph and Bryant each served five aces.
Sara Ogden and Leah Warren each had six digs for Capital City (1-8).