By TRIBUNE SPORTS STAFF
---- — Eastern’s volleyball squad held off Northwestern in five sets Saturday at Taylor to win the Howard County Tournament, its fourth county crown in the last six seasons.
The Comets (17-9) took the first two sets from the Purple Tigers, 25-21, 25-16 before Northwestern battled back to win the third and fourth sets, 25-15, 25-22. Eastern was able to regain enough momentum to take the fifth set 15-13 to win the match.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” Eastern coach Missy Mavrick said. “One of the things we really challenged them on was staying focused and continuing to fight until the end. We got a little lax there in the middle of the Northwestern match, but I feel like we were fighters and my kids showed me we’re really growing as a team. … I’m extremely excited in my first season [as head coach] to win a county championship and have a winning record.”
Lizzy Mavrick led Eastern with 23 kills, 19 digs and nine service points. Kinsey Duke added 13 kills and 10 digs. Hannah Williams finished with nine kills and four blocks. Maddie Vint (10 points) and Hannah Broo (eight points) added strong service games in the title match, while Quinlyn Hochstedler finished with match with 54 assists, 11 digs and 10 points, and added three crucial kills down the stretch to help hold Northwestern off.
In the opening round, Eastern topped Taylor 25-14, 25-17, 25-9, led by 12 kills from Lizzy Mavrick, 10 kills and four aces from Williams and nine kills from Gabby Castillo. Courtney Clark added nine digs, 14 points and three aces. Vint added 16 points, and Hochstedler dished out 35 assists.
Kim Seal led Taylor with four kills, while Ashleigh Till added three blocks. Hannah Mullinax led the Titan servers with points, and Kayla added eight points.
Eastern’s junior varsity, eighth grade and seventh grade teams also claimed county titles Saturday.
Northwestern defeated Western 25-13, 25-11, 25-14 on the other morning semifinal.
Kokomo split a pair of North Central Conference matches on their home floor to move to 10-18 on the season, and 2-3 in NCC play, topping Anderson 25-19, 25-18, 25-14 in the opener before falling to 3A No. 8 Muncie Central 25-17, 25-18, 25-15.
Kirsten Frey led Kokomo with 23 kills and eight blocks on the day. Tori Lauderbaugh added 18 kills and 23 digs. Alanis Jones finished with 13 kills. Miranda Ogle orchestrated the offense with 49 assists and added 14 digs. Amanda Tran led the defense with 26 digs and 43 service receptions, and Allison Bowlin added 11 digs.
“We came out kind of sluggish, but finally got it going and were able to win the Anderson match and take care of business there,” Kokomo coach Jason Watson said. “Then, we had trouble adjusting to Muncie Central’s ball control and quick middle attacks. We weren’t able to win the big momentum points we needed to stay in the match.”
Tri-Central went 2-2 on the day to move to 13-15 on the season. The Trojans finished in seventh place, but took a 25-21, 22-25, 15-12 victory over eventual champion Wabash in their first match of the day.
The Trojans then fell to Blackford (25-22, 25-1) and the host Braves (25-18, 25-12) before wrapping up the day with a 25-10, 25-20 win over Faith Christian.
Hayley Farris led TC with 20 service points, while Tara Davis added 15.
“We played well, but in the matches we lost, we were just inconsistent, which is what separates the good teams from the ones not so good,” TC coach Ron Byram said. “I feel like if we could’ve been a little more consistent we could’ve won all four, but that’s why you play the game. I’m pleased with our effort and our serve receive. We did those things well all day, but we just need a little more consistency in the other departments.”
North White Invitational
Carroll dropped a pair of matches to fall to 11-13 on the season.
The Cougars fell to West Central in the opener, 25-13, 25-6. Madison Miller had seven assists for Carroll, while Miller and Libby Eller both had eight digs. Bailey Worl led the offense with six kills.
In the second match, Carroll fell to LaCrosse 25-21, 25-19. Bailey Worl posted six more kills for the Cougars, while Macy Willoughby added five kills and Lauren Worl served up five aces.