STE. GENEVIEVE – The Farmington volleyball team has become accustomed to playing lengthy matches under high pressure this season.
But the possibility of missing the championship phase of the MAAA Tournament still caused trepidation after Valle Catholic played remarkable defense to control the opening set Monday night.
“I was a little worried at times, but I knew we would pull it out. I just had a feeling,” Farmington outside hitter Mattie Bradley said. “Being one of five seniors, this part of the season is important, and we really want to finish things on a good note.”
Bradley recorded six of her 14 kills during the middle game, and the Knightettes raised their intensity level to overcome a loud crowd and tough opponent for a 13-25, 25-22, 25-19 road victory in Pool D.
Libero Hunter Vargo compiled 16 digs and a whopping 35 serve receptions while Kaitlyn Gilliam spiked eight clutch kills. Farmington (19-8-1) will face North County in a Gold Bracket semifinal on Thursday.
Susan Roth notched eight kills with four blocks and Cassandra Moulton totaled 12 assists, 12 digs, five kills and seven points for the higher-seeded Lady Warriors.
Moulton surprised the opposition with two kills on the second touch, and Valle Catholic (18-9-1) scored eight straight points to assume a 14-6 advantage in the opening set.
That sudden run was capped by a stellar rally that Sydni Basler tipped down after Ally Doza made three of her 13 digs in succession while Megan Abt added another.
The Lady Warriors answered a brief swing toward Farmington with a 6-0 spurt, and safely roared to a 21-9 advantage on Roth’s stuff-block.
“(Nancy) Fischer is a phenomenal coach, and anyone who plays Valle knows that you have to work even harder for that ball to hit the floor,” Farmington coach Julie Ward said. “Tonight, they were making plays look easy that weren’t, and I was even cheering that effort from here.”
With the emergence of Farmington’s defense came several strong exchanges, and the Knightettes would establish the leading pace in game 2. Kourtney Knox totaled 19 assists and Chase Vargo added 18 while combining to set the ball 106 times.
Bradley connected cross-court to create separation at 20-17, and Farmington added two kills to the lead when Knox made digs and a secondary setter was forced to react.
Riley Wolk hammered down an overpass as Valle Catholic turned back three game points, but a missed serve evened the match.
“It was an awesome game,” Ward added. “For us to come back against that team and get the second set was quite a feat. My girls made some spectacular plays as well.”
Game 3 was tied for the final time at 5-5 before Farmington seized command by pressuring the home team into a series of errors. Kasia Kaiser landed a spike from the back row to make it 15-8.
Following a string of points served by Knox, Gilliam made her most emphatic kill of the night at 19-11 as her second swing slammed off Doza, who somehow fought off the first vicious attack.
Valle continued to battle and Roth smashed a kill after trading blocks with Savage. Madeleine Drury helped cut the deficit to 20-15 off a solid dig by Coco Kertz.
Gilliam applied a pivotal dagger at 23-18 after Abt saved an errant Valle pass near the bleachers, and an overpass kill brought the Knightettes to match point.
“We always seem to rely on winning that third set,” Bradley said. “It’s working for us, but we need to start coming out faster than we did tonight. Our coach really lit a fire under our butts after the first set, and made us realize that this was our chance to make another statement.”
Hannah Bahr finished with 13 digs, 20 receptions and five kills for the Lady Warriors. Drury added five kills, Abt made 17 receptions and Taylor Siebert dealt 12 assists.
A winner-take-all scenario in the pool was created after both teams defeated Valley. Valle Catholic began the proceedings with a 25-9, 25-17 triumph.
Abt totaled 13 points and served four aces during an 11-0 scoring run in the first set. Roth added six kills and Bahr had four kills with three blocks.
Siebert made 12 assists and Kertz brought up seven digs for the Lady Warriors, who will play Potosi in the Silver Bracket semifinal round on Wednesday.
Kiana Loughary tallied three kills and four digs to pace Valley (10-13), which dropped into the Bronze Bracket and a match against Fredericktown today.
Erica Crocker made three blocks during the second set, and the Lady Vikings stayed within 12-9 near the midway point before Valle pulled away.
Farmington later used a balanced offensive attack to defeat Valley 25-10, 25-14 as both Katie Scism and Bradley recorded six kills.
Gilliam added five kills with three blocks while Savage and Kelsey Krause had three kills each. Knox ended with 12 assists and Chase Vargo chipped in 10.
Madison Brown followed her first kill with a 7-0 serving streak that pushed Farmington ahead 13-3 in the opening set.
Tadum Heifner and Loughary had two kill apiece, and Lacey Yount made a team-high six digs for Valley.