Girls volleyball: Seneca stays unbeaten in Tri-County with consistent effort against Woodland

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SENECA – Consistency has been a vital part to the fine record the Seneca volleyball team has produced so far this season.

That consistent effort was on display again Thursday as the Irish topped Tri-County Conference foe Woodland 25-15, 25-23 to remain undefeated in league play.

The Irish (14-5, 4-0 TCC) were paced by junior setter Lainie Olson’s 22 assists, five kills and two aces.

“It feels great to still be undefeated in our conference and tonight our consistent effort again was what led us against a very good team,” Olson said. “I’m really excited and feel this is a very good group that can keep winning at a high level.”

Seneca also received fine efforts from junior Audry McNabb who fired down a team-best seven kills along with seniors Teagan Johnson and Faith Baker, who registered six kills apiece. Sophomore Tessa Krull also added four key kills, while junior libero Alyssa Zellers popped up eight digs during the winning performance.

“I was really proud of the way we played tonight, especially in the first set where we did everything well from passing to setting and our hitters took care of business from there,” Seneca coach Noah Champene said. “Woodland proved they’re a good ballclub and pushed us in the second set. But our consistent play really helped get us through tonight like it has all season and we executed our game plan the way we talked about it before the match.”

Woodland (11-6, 3-1) saw some fine efforts from junior Malayna Pitte (seven kills, six points), senior Shae Simons (13 assists) and senior Kaiden Connor (four digs). But the Warriors couldn’t sustain any significant runs.

“Seneca’s always a very good program and tonight we were down two of our main starters (Cloee Johnston and Emma Highland) so that hurt us,” Woodland coach Michelle Pitte said. “But with all that being said, we weren’t in this match from the get go till late and we’ve got to clean things up tomorrow in practice and hopefully come back strong on Monday versus Roanoke-Benson.”

The Irish opened up strong in the first set, racing out to a 20-12 lead after a key block from Krull. She added a kill off an over-pass and then a middle court kill that closed out the first set with a convincing win for the home squad.

“We just needed to execute early in this match and I got some great sets from Lainie (Olson) and I did my best to put them away in the first game,” Krull said. “It was a pretty easy job for me toward the end of the opening set when Lainie got me some good chances to finish.”

In the second set, Seneca held a substantial lead at 12-5 after a left-side kill from Johnson. But the Warriors chipped away going on a 15-9 rally to close the gap to 21-20.

But the Irish held tough in the final minutes, getting vital kills from McNabb, Krull and Olson, who provided a tip-winner on match point to secure the Irish victory.

“I figured I knew where the holes in their defense were and I was able to find one to close out the game,” Olson said. “It felt great to be able to end the match like that with a big conference win.”