POWHATAN – In Thursday’s home game against Manchester, Powhatan Volleyball junior outside hitter Natalie Mueller played all the way around the court.
“’Are you ready for that?’” Mueller recalled her head coach Cindy Bryant asking her, to which Mueller replied: “Heck yes.”
“I’ve been ready for this,” Mueller said. “Having a good touch on almost every ball…it helps you with reps, and it’s just really fun.”
On one of those touches, Mueller in the first set launched into a full forward dive to wedge her hands in between the ball and the floor. She hit the floor while the ball sailed back over the net. The Lancers soon returned it. On that same point, Mueller notched another big touch – a one-handed reach – to keep the ball afloat. Her teammate Bryson Amorese, rushing to the ball along the wide right side of the court, bumped it high over her head and over to the Lancers’ court.
They didn’t return it this time.
Powhatan won the wild rally.
Mueller on Thursday double-doubled with 12 kills and 10 digs, and the Powhatan Indians grew their winning streak to 7 games following their 3-0 home sweep (25-9, 25-21, 25-20) of Manchester.
“It’s kind of amazing because you just want to keep going with it,” Mueller said of the streak, “and it gives you a lot of momentum to be ready for the next one.”
“It’s great just to keep on winning and knowing your team’s always fighting…to win the next point and everything,” said Kenzie Urbine, who contributed 5 kills to Powhatan’s win on Thursday and has quickly become a model of consistency in the rotation. Switching positions briefly from outside to right side got her going, and then, with standout outside hitter and teammate Sierra Ellison out due to an ankle injury, she knew she had to come in and do something for the team.
“And Coach really helped me out by telling me little tips and tricks,” Urbine said.
Both Mueller and senior Star Bryant continued to bring the big hits throughout Thursday’s match as Bryant dished out 9 kills while also showcasing her versatility with 2 blocks and 5 digs. Setter Bryson Amorese aided her team with 23 assists.
After having a bit of a rough time in starting off with the 6-2 formation against Clover Hill, Powhatan this time looked to get into the groove of things by starting with the 5-1 against Manchester. It worked, as the Indians stormed out to a dominant 25-9 first-set victory featuring a diving save by Allie Dulio that Star turned into a kill and a point for Powhatan.
But the Indians eventually shifted to the 6-2 to get everyone who was active onto the court and contributing to the team’s winning effort.
Zoe Higley late in the match made a couple of smart kills, calmly sending the ball to a couple of uncovered spots in the middle of the opponents’ floor. And with Marsho returning to the lineup in a limited capacity Thursday night and Ellison still out, sophomore Faith Henderson – who started the season on JV – continued the momentum from her 9-kill night against Clover Hill by landing key attacks and plays for Powhatan over the middle. McKenna Adams also did well at right back – a position she had not played this season before Thursday’s match.
“What this time has shown us is that we can do multiple things and we can beat other teams doing multiple things, and I love that,” Powhatan head coach Cindy Bryant said. “I love that versatility that we’re seeing.”
Powhatan opened this week with another 4-set victory over a Dominion District opponent, outlasting Clover Hill 3-1 (25-18, 25-21, 21-25, 25-13). Coach Bryant noted how the Indians rallied from about a 12-point deficit to win their first set of the match.
“That is an impressive comeback,” she said, “but we need to immediately break this negative habit of coming out slow in the first set!”
The Indians would go on to dominate the fourth and final set, and, as with Thursday’s game, they were able to run a 6-2 Tuesday night to get everybody significant minutes on the court.
Natalie Mueller had the hot-hand in Tuesday’s game as well with 18 kills, and Star double-doubled with 13 kills and 14 digs while adding 3 blocks. Amorese tallied up 27 assists and made 6 digs. Henderson contributed 9 kills.
The Indians were still without Marsho and Sierra Ellison while facing Clover Hill. While Marsho has returned to the lineup, Ellison will probably return next week, according to her coach.
Powhatan (8-1) hosts Huguenot on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. before going to L.C. Bird on Thursday, Sept. 26 for a 7 p.m. match.
“We’re staying at it – it’s tough in practice,” Coach Bryant said, speaking to the importance of the team “being highly motivated for when we get up against that next stretch of the teams that are taking us to 4 or 5 sets and making sure that we’re ready to face them again – and hopefully all players will be healthy and back at it by then.”