Strong setting and covering in tight spots helped the Zeta Alpha Skyhawks as they beat the Beta Gamma Patriots in four sets during Monday night’s volleyball game.
The Skyhawks took the Patriots by surprise in the first set, racking up a quick 11-6 lead before sophomore Dillon Doran tipped off a block to senior Caleb Sowers who put it over a Skyhawk defender’s hands.
The back court combination of junior Ross Willoughby, junior Joshua Bourg and sophomore Stephen Potter took over Zeta Alpha’s offense and put a comfortable eight-point lead on Beta. Senior Mike Schell had a big-time spike for Beta, but Willoughby returned with a ripping serve to win the first game for Zeta Alpha, 25-16.
In the second set, Beta struggled to communicate and lost points from simple errors, letting Zeta Alpha jump out in front with another strong lead. Early on, Willoughby had a killing spike to put Zeta Alpha ahead 6-5. Beta’s Doran and sophomore Clay Wiginton worked up front to keep volleys going longer, giving Beta more opportunities to score. Wiginton had a mini run, scoring three points for Beta by attack blocking and spiking the ball twice.
But Zeta Alpha regrouped quickly, with senior Justin Withers having a last-second save that ended up as a spike by senior Mike Gorham. Beta couldn’t capitalize on strong setting from junior Mark Sterr, and the second game ended 25-17.
The third set was more intense, with Zeta Alpha leading for most of the match, but Beta held on to win. Sterr and Sowers worked together in front court for Beta, with several nice kills from Sowers. Willoughby had yet another ripping shot that Beta couldn’t block, putting the score at 18-10. Beta started to communicate better and pressured Zeta Alpha’s backcourt to give up points. Sterr blocked a shot by Zeta Alpha’s freshman Jordan Johnson and then tipped over the next point, putting the score at 20-17. Beta eventually held on long enough to win the match 25-24.
Zeta Alpha and Beta stayed even in the last set with each team making important blocks and kills. Withers, Willoughby and Gorham led Zeta Alpha, while Wiginton, Sterr and Sowers kept Beta in the match. Beta got their first lead of the set at 18-17 but couldn’t win a few long volleys. Zeta Alpha won the game, 25-20. Gorham said his team focused on playing clean. “We’ve lost in the past with all the little mistakes,” he said. “This game we tried to play clean and smart.”