Helena sweeps tri-match with Jackson-Olin, Hillcrest

By GRAHAM BROOKS

HELENA – The Helena volleyball team had a successful night in their home gym on Tuesday, Sept. 1, as the Huskies took care of the Jackson-Olin Mustangs and got another quality win against Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa as part of a tri-match between the three teams.

The two wins marked a step in the right direction for the team, something head coach Amanda Lewis was happy to see.

“I feel like the looser we play, the better we play,” Lewis said. “We have been struggling with making in-system and out-of-system balls more of a rhythm of the game than a component of the game. We try to make it a point to address in practice and in a game.”

In the first match, Helena handled that area of focus and made quick work of Jackson-Olin by winning in straight sets behind a score of 25-5 and 25-13.

The Huskies dominated both sets thanks to impressive play from Kenzie Sipper who finished with six aces in the match. Mia Johnson led Helena in kills with five, while Madison Martin and Brianna Wilson both finished with four kills in the dominant effort.

In the second match, the Huskies found themselves in a much tougher battle against Hillcrest, as the Patriots pushed the match to a decisive third set that the Huskies eventually won 15-12. Helena won the match 2-1 (25-17, 22-25, 15-12).

In the first set, Helena took control after an early battle. Following an 8-8 tie, the Huskies reeled off 10 straight points to take a commanding 18-8 lead before eventually winning the set 25-17.

In the second set, Hillcrest mounted its own comeback, forcing the match to a third set. The Patriots fell behind 19-13 at one point in the set and it looked as if the Huskies were headed toward another straight-set victory.

But Hillcrest put together an 8-2 run to tie the set at 21-21 and then won four of the next five points to close out a 25-22 victory.

“Hillcrest started playing a little bit better that second game,” Lewis said. “I think they turned it into more positive contacts for them and that was a great learning experience for us.”

But Helena came out in the final set and played like it had in the first set and early in the second set, which led to the Huskies winning the decisive set 15-12 to sweep the tri-match.

“We’ve been struggling with our ball control heavily, but the difference is usually it’s not the other team, it’s usually how we’re doing and the momentum that we allow others to influence our game,” Lewis said. “It’s kind of a mental struggle but we’re making strides here and there.”

Johnson led the Huskies with 10 kills in the match, while Wilson added eight kills and two aces.