IRONTON – The Arcadia Valley volleyball program is banking on the ability of six players to handle both the physical and mental strain while enduring lengthy matches in their entirety.
Based on results over consecutive nights this week, the Lady Tigers are rising to the challenge with two senior stars providing the example.
Maddie Dement and Gracee Smith combined for 52 of their team’s 55 total kills on Tuesday, and Arcadia Valley pulled away late in game four to outlast North County 25-20, 25-14, 19-25, 25-20.
Once again going the distance without a single substitution, the Lady Tigers surged ahead 15-9 on a key 7-0 scoring spurt with Dement up front and Smith at the service line.
Dement followed up her school-record 41 kills during a five-game marathon win against Farmington with 35 this time, along with 19 digs, six blocks and nine points on serve.
Smith totaled 17 kills, 14 points, 11 assists and 10 digs, while sophomore Sammi Layton set 28 assists and added 13 digs plus 10 points for Arcadia Valley (10-3).
North County (8-3-2) offered a final flurry as Kamryn Winch alertly swatted the ball back for her second straight kill. Whitney Marler connected down the line, and Tyler Conkright made it 18-17 with an ace.
Sophomore Riley Brogan answered on a tipping battle between the 10-foot lines, and AV claimed three of the next five points on North County errors.
The Lady Raiders turned aside the first match point, but Dement found an off-speed crease after Maggie Newstead-Adams extended a diving fist for an outstanding save along the front-row sideline.
Game four was tied eight separate times between 2-2 and 9-9 before the Lady Tigers initially gained separation. Freshman Cate Newstead-Adams added 11 digs to the win.
North County presented enough size in the middle and attacking prowess along the outsides to combat the primary AV hitting duo, but too often lacked in crisp execution.
Emma Gaugel, Marler and Winch each recorded 11 kills for the more balanced Lady Raiders, and senior Emily Veach produced eight kills, 25 assists and 10 digs.
But the passing and defense of Arcadia Valley had the edge for much of the night, save for a brief stretch of slower court coverage during game three.
Dement clicked with Layton on a two middle feeds and a pinpoint back-set to the right side to acquire the first three AV points, and tallied eight kills during game one.
Marler scored twice by attacking cross-court and down the line, but Smith answered with two timely swings from the middle to put the Lady Tigers ahead 18-14.
Gaugel brought the visitors within 21-18 before rotating back, and stopped two rocketing drives on game point from Dement, whose third attempt found the floor.
Dement served a 5-0 run that created a 13-6 advantage in game two, and North County fell farther behind on a lifting violation, errant serve reception and attacking error over three straight points.
AV widened a 21-14 gap when Dement followed an angled kill with back-to-back solo blocks, and soon enjoyed a two-game cushion.
The Lady Raiders appeared destined to be swept when Maggie Newstead-Adams served an ace at 5-0, but responded by taking the next five points.
Marler landed five kills in game three, which saw North County lead 12-11 on a Gaugel overpass kill and 16-15 on a right-side bullet from Veach.
Smith reacted to a carom off the rafters to perfectly assist Dement after Brogan made a running save, but North County capitalized on subsequent rallies when the AV blockers were late to arrive.
Marler found a vacant hole in the deep corner at 22-19, and Isabell Walker terminated two of the next three rallies with left-handed swings to prolong the match for another game.