Zionsville — Experience played a key role in the fourth-ranked Zionsville boys volleyball team's victory over Covenant Christian Thursday night.
Not just the Eagles experience on the court, which is a lot. But the experience of playing in multiple five-set matches so far this season.
So when the Warriors forced a fifth set Thursday night, it was nothing unfamiliar for the Eagles, and they dug deep to win the match 3-2 (25-21, 18-25, 25-22, 19-25, 15-9).
"Having three of those under our belts this year really helps," Zionsville head coach Matthew Nance said. "We have a team of mostly seniors and a junior out there, and in those situations, that experience comes into play."
The Eagles took the first 25-21, but dropped the second 25-18.
They bounced back in the third 25-22, but dropped the fourth 25-19 to force a fifth set.
"We are always looking to have good communication, chatting with each other and figuring it what is going on on both sides of the net," Nance said. "When those pieces start to go away, like in the second and fourth sets, the other team can take advantage of that."
The Eagles took three of the first four points in the fifth set to take control.
Covenant Christian twice got within one at 4-3 and 5-4, but the Eagles used a 4-0 spurt to go up 9-4 and never led by less than four the rest of the way.
"Composure was such a big part of it," Nance said. "We showed some grit and we talk a lot about how long our matches are. These are long matches and you have to be able to win the in the fifth set. We have won three five-set matches now, and it is all about hitting the reset button and just focusing on that set, because that is the most important."
A big part of the Eagles fifth set was senior Ethan Krone.
Having a quiet match through four sets, Krone had five kills in the fifth, including four in the Eagles' first six points to help his team grab the win.
"He was struggling earlier in the match, and at one point even said that we shouldn't set him any more," Nance said. "But we coached him through that, telling him we have him out there as a hitter, and he came out in the fifth set and did his job."
The Eagles are now 19-4 on the season and have won five-straight matches.
They will face a tough task Monday at No. 3 Brownsburg, kicking off a four matches in eight days stretch to close the regular season.
"We had a little bit of an up-and-down in terms of quality of opponents, but this is a tough stretch," Nance said. "Covenant is a tough team, and Brownsburg is a tough opponent too. We are seeing tough teams at the right time of the season. We want to see how we compete against these tough teams heading into the post-season. We have to get back to some of the things that we were really good at early in the season in blocking and minimizing errors."