By Jerry Holsworth -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Although each set was close, Musselman relied on strong play at the net from Kortney Jenkins and Taylor Allen to sweep Handley, 3-0 (25-21, 25-13, 25-19) in girls volleyball on Tuesday in non-district action.
"This is really the first match this year where they were both on," Applemen coach Shawn Martz said. "It's usually one or the other. Tonight they were both consistent. We're going to need that kind of play from both of them to be successful this year."
Both Jenkins and Allen finished with double digit kills, and combined for 23 for the match, almost twice as many as the Judges (3-2) generated as a team.
Musselman's (6-2) only weakness was service errors, and those gave Handley several opportunities to steal a game. The Applemen committed 11 service errors for the night, including seven in the third set. Handley only had seven service errors total in the match.
"They just put the ball where we couldn't get to it," Judges coach Lindsay Hazelette said. "They played well as a team all night, and we, at times, didn't."
The first set was easily the closest of the three, with Handley staying close throughout. Despite the close score, the Judges never managed to get their hitters into a position to score on kills, generating all but four of their 21 points off Musselman mistakes.
Late in the game, with the Applemen clinging to a 23-21 lead, Jenkins stepped forward with a hard kill, and setter Taylor Oates got the game-winner with an ace to give Musselman a hard won victory.
The Applemen had their most dominating play in the second set, jumping ahead 6-1 on a pair of aces by Oates and a pair of kills by Jenkins. Oates, Jenkins, and teammate Emily Funkhouser all connected for a match-high three aces.
"We struggled with too many unforced errors tonight," Martz said. "That's still a work in progress for us. We're a very young team. I did think that when we put our serves in play, we were very strong in that area of the game."
Committing just one service error in the second set, and scoring three aces, the Applemen never trailed in the set. Erica Bowers got the set-winning kill for Musselman.
Early in the third set it looked as though the Judges were going to push for their first win of the night. Jumping ahead 2-0 on a pair of Musselman errors Handley stayed close to the bitter end. The Judges, however, failed to generate much offense, managing just five kills.
In the end, Jenkins and Allen proved too much for Handley. The pair connected for seven kills in the third set to keep the Judges at bay. Jenkins finished the night with 13 kills to go with her three aces to lead the Applemen. Allen had 10 kills for the match.
"We like to play all of the Winchester area schools each year," Martz said. "They play very good volleyball in Frederick County, and it helps us get ready for our conference schedule."
The Judges were led by Alex Bazdar who had four kills for the night. Kara Dixon and Delaney Deavers had three each for Handley.
"Of course, I'd rather win than lose," Hazelette said. "But this is the best start Handley's had in several years. Our girls are proud to wear the Handley volleyball uniform. We're building as a program, and playing tough against a good team like Musselman will help us down the road."