Zionsville — The young Zionsville volleyball team nearly pulled off a big early-season upset in the season opener Monday night.
The Eagles went up 2-0 on ninth-ranked McCutcheon, only to see the Mavericks storm back to win the match 3-2 (22-25, 19-25, 25-19, 26-24, 15-12).
While it wasn’t the exact outcome Zionsville had hoped for, head coach Rich Coleman said there was a lot his team could build on.
“There are a lot of positives from tonight,” Coleman said. “We are a young team and we showed a lot. In the first set, we were down 21-19 with two freshmen in that serve receive with (Anna) Murphy and came back to win that set. That just started the momentum and we had a lot of young kids step up. Which is what you hope for, but you never know. (McCutcheon) is a senior-laden team, they came in with a chip on their shoulders and we fought until the end.”
Up 2-1, the Eagles led throughout the beginning portions of the fourth set, at one point leading 15-12.
But the Mavericks rallied off five-straight points to take the lead in the set. Zionsville came back to tie the set at 24 on a kill by Taylor Sorg, and looked to have the lead at 25-24, but were called for being in the net.
The Mavericks then closed the set out on another net violation.
In the fifth, Zionsville went up 2-0 before the Mavericks scored the next seven, capitalizing on the Eagles unforced errors.
Zionsville got as close as two at 14-12, but were facing an uphill battle the entire set.
“It was the difference between a senior-laden team and a young team,” Coleman said. “They played steady throughout, so we had to beat them each and every set and unfortunately in the third, fourth and middle of the fifth, we didn’t. We had some young kids trying to make some plays outside of what we needed them to do, but it’s a learning experience and a process. But some of the key pieces were there.”
Sydney Aguirre and Avery Moore led the Eagles with 18 kills, while Sorg added seven.
Katie Kirkendol had 47 assists and 18 digs. Anna Murphy had 34 digs, with Emma Ahern adding 11 and Aguirre adding 17.
Moore, making her varsity debut, needed just 40 swings to get her 18 kills.
“She had a pretty big coming out party,” Coleman said. “She has been showing a lot of good things in practice, and the great thing is that after the match, she already had some things to work on in practice. Those are the things you love as a coach. We have a lot of kids that are hungry. There are a lot of people that have written this program off this year, and we showed that we have a lot of kids with a lot of heart.”
Zionsville has another tough challenge in hosting Brebeuf on Thursday, before playing in the Franklin Central Invite on Saturday.
“We have to block better,” Coleman said. “Their outsides are tremendous, so that was a tough challenge tonight. We have some great defenders, so if we put ourselves in a little bit better of position, we will be in good shape. We want a little more consistency when it counts too.”
Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Zionsville Times Sentinel and Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.