Ace Nation: Spartans snap Bulldogs’ 5-game win streak

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ALBANY, Ohio (WOUB) —  The Alexander Spartans hosted the Athens Bulldogs in a TVC Ohio match-up on Tuesday night. These teams are cross-town rivals and are both sitting high in the conference standings.  

Each set came down to the wire and set victories went back and forth. After an evenly matched battle, Alexander pulled out the win five sets going to extra points.

The Spartans set the tone in the first set scoring the first points of the match. Lexi Grissett came out swinging, racking up four kills and two aces. Grissett’s leadership in the front row helped move Alexander through this hard-fought game. Alexander pulled out the victory in the first set, winning 25-19. 

The Bulldogs came with vengeance in set two and asserted their dominance right away. The connection between the back row and the front row was on top. Ava Williams came out with fierce energy and had strong hits that Alexander’s back row could not to handle. But the Spartans would not lose the second set without a fight. The Spartans’ serve-receive play was strong, with hitters finding pockets in the backline. Although both squads rallied hard, Athens won the second set 25-21, tying the Bulldogs and the Spartans at one apiece.  

Alexander Spartan Lexi Grissett sets the volleyball to Macie Swart before a kill against the Athens Bulldogs

The third set was a tight battle and both teams wanted the security of a second win under their belt. The ball was in the air consistently with great movement from both sides. Alexander was ahead most of the set, with Athens on their heels. In the end the Spartans ran away with it, winning the third set 25-16. 

Athens knew what was riding on this fourth set: the opportunity to send it to the fifth. Alexander on the other hand, wanted to secure the win as soon as possible. The Bulldogs demonstrated their grit and perseverance, putting the Spartans into a lull mid-way through the set. Athens had the upper hand for a short while, but Alexander didn’t back down. It boiled down to the Bulldogs’ ability to keep calm under pressure, which was the key to their fourth set victory, winning 25-23. 

Alexander was hoping to find their peace again as they headed into set five. “Really just staying calm if we were out of system just going back to the basics and just getting a pass,” Libero Trista Johnson said.  

 The Spartans drove home Johnson’s words in the fifth set. The energy was high, and points alternated from team to team. The squads tied at every interval within the last three points, but the action didn’t stop at point 15. Each team left everything on the table, however a few missed opportunities from Athens decided this match. The Spartans were victorious 17-15. 

Alexander is now 6-5 on the season after this win and 3-1 in the TVC Ohio Conference. Athens is now 6-3 overall and they are also 3-1 in the conference. These two teams will see each other again on October 5th, in Bulldog territory. 

Alexander will play at Nelsonville-York on Saturday and Athens will travel to Vinton County on Thursday.