By JOSH SIGLER KOKOMO TRIBUNE
---- — GREENTOWN — Eastern’s volleyball squad appeared poised to sweep to victory in Tuesday night’s home match with Peru, displaying a diverse offense that had the Bengal Tigers on their heels for most of the match’s first two sets.
The offense began to sputter late in the match, allowing Peru to battle back to tie it at 2-2 before the Comets regained form in the fifth set to stave off collapse in a 25-20, 25-16, 24-26, 24-26, 15-8 conference victory.
“Something we’ve been trying to work on in practice is staying consistent and cleaning up our unforced errors,” Eastern coach Missy Mavrick said. “After that second set, I feel like we got a little ahead of ourselves. We didn’t keep our focus and play our game. We let them take control and lost the momentum we had. We took the momentum back in that fifth set.”
The Comets (8-7, 2-1 Mid-Indiana Conference) built a 9-2 lead in the match’s opening set with a kills from Kinsey Duke, Hannah Williams and setter Quinlyn Hochstedler on a ball she dumped off to the back corner, a tactic she used often in the early stages of the match.
Peru got within 19-17 in the opening set before a pair of kills from Lizzy Mavrick and Maddie Vint’s third ace of the night helped Eastern close out the set.
The Comets didn’t take their first lead in the second set until three straight Peru attack errors put Eastern in front 15-14. Eastern ended the set on a 10-2 run with Hochstedler dishing out a pair of kills to Lizzy Mavrick and another to Gabby Castillo.
“Quinlyn has been doing a really nice job this season of distributing the ball to everyone,” Missy Mavrick said. “I feel like that’s helped throw off the block of other teams. A lot of times they don’t know where she’s going to go. She’s been doing a nice job of reading the court and putting the ball in holes. A lot of teams aren’t responding to that. She’s actually, a lot of times, up there in kills for us as well.”
The Comets committed 11 attack errors in the third set to help set Peru’s comeback attempt in motion. With the third set tied 24-24, Adreana Spohn stamped back to back kills to put the Tigers (3-5, 1-2 MIC) on the board.
Peru staved off a pair of match points in the fourth set, trailing 24-22 before a pair of Eastern attack errors sandwiched a pair of Spohn kills from the outside to send the match to a fifth set.
“The idea that we even fought back was very good,” Peru coach Bob Cruikshank said. “We started to understand what Eastern was doing. We started serving better, which in turn made them come out of system more. That brought us back. We cleaned up our mistakes. Eastern was excellent with their cover — they chased every ball down. They outhustled us, but I’m still happy with the fact we came back [after going down 0-2]. I don’t like the last one, because we just laid down.”
Up 6-4 in the fifth set, a dump kill to the back corner from Hochstedler ignited 5-0 rally for Eastern before a block kill from Williams and kill from the outside by Duke helped the Comets rebound for the victory.
Duke and Lizzy Mavrick led Eastern with 12 kills each, with Mavrick adding 23 digs. Williams added 10 kills and nine blocks. Hochstelder dished 37 assists, and libero Courtney Clark added a team-high 28 digs.
Spohn led Peru with 19 kills.