FARMINGTON – With the start of MAAA conference play arriving this week, the Farmington volleyball team is hoping that the worst adversity of this season has passed.
The Knights entered Monday mired in a six-match slide while missing sophomore outside hitter Jelena Gray for nearly a month and junior setter Jordan Anderson for the last two weeks.
Both players were cleared to return in recent days, however, and made an immediate impact as Farmington finally received an initial glance of its full varsity squad in action.
After stumbling in the latter moments of the second game, the Knights closed out the third and fourth with authority to secure a 25-17, 21-25, 25-18, 25-12 home victory.
Gray collected three of her team-high 21 kills in the opening rotation, and added three blocks with three service aces for Farmington (4-8-2).
Anderson compiled 23 assists along with six digs and two aces, often finding Gray in solid hitting position, and opposite setter Sophie Pullen finished with 22 assists.
Senior libero Bridget Bone registered 24 digs, and served consecutive aces to tie game three at 9-9. The pivotal stanza would remain close for several more minutes.
Poplar Bluff (2-9-3) gained an incredible point when libero Olivia Carda dived in full extension to deflect a hard spike and Zoe Savat cleared a desperate kick that caught the back line.
The ensuing rally was arguably the most active of the match. Carda made another dazzling stop after Anderson and Alyssa Wilson reacted quickly to rescue a blocked ball from the net, and the Lady Mules again celebrated when an attack sailed long at 15-15.
A successful swing by Gray was countered by a solo block from Sierra Sievers at 17-17, but Farmington suddenly took eight of the next nine points and never relinquished control again.
Grace Duncan smashed a left-side winner off a quick transition pass from Taylor Woods, and Jade Roth struck from the middle before two Anderson aces capped the set.
Leading two games to one, the Knights surged ahead 8-3 in the fourth behind consecutive Gray kills. A remarkable defensive effort would essentially seal the outcome.
Bone sprawled to her right on pure instinct to cover a block, and Wilson tracked down the resulting carom near the seats. Lauren Obenauer and Duncan added subsequent digs before Wilson’s putaway made it 18-11.
Obenauer notched her fourth block in solo fashion when Savat tried to surprise Farmington on second contact at 23-12. A clearing push by Bone found the floor, and Kaylee Gerwitz spiked the clincher off a defender.
Roth totaled eight kills and eight digs while Duncan produced seven kills and 14 digs. Gerwitz and Wilson chipped in six kills each.
Hannah Corcimiglia paced Poplar Bluff with 11 kills, and Sievers contributed nine kills plus four blocks. Carda ended with 16 digs and Savat had 11.
The Knights had been swept in five of the last six contests while clearly short-handed. The exception was a grueling five-set defeat at home to Arcadia Valley.
Farmington appeared sharp early on Monday with Gray providing the initial spark. Duncan served back-to-back aces before a kill and scoring block by Roth established a 16-7 cushion.
Game two was tied on six occasions, the last of which was broken at 16-15 on a stuff by Lady Mules junior Natalie Whitehead, who tallied seven kills and four blocks.
Poplar Bluff displayed its most consistent defense with several scrambling efforts over the next few rallies, and eventually moved ahead 21-17.
A pair of shanked passes by Farmington also helped the visitors square the match, negating the progress made on a Gray kill and Obenauer block.
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