DIXON – The Dixon volleyball team was within a point of finishing off a straight-sets win over United Township on Monday at Lancaster Gym. But the Panthers didn’t make it easy, holding off the Duchesses from clinching the win until, eventually, an Ella Govig kill to put Dixon on the brink was followed by a Panthers’ hit into the net, closing out a 25-14, 28-26 Duchesses win.
Dixon (6-3) jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the second set, and despite UT getting within two points, had a 24-20 lead following a Panthers hitting error. But UT scored the next four points to tie the score, getting a tip-kill from and an ace from Brooklyn VanOpdorp and a block from Teegan Rice.
A service error put Dixon back on the brink of winning the set at 25-24, but a hitting error by the Duchesses tied the score again. After both teams had service errors, Dixon eventually finishing things out.
“We had to play safe,” Dixon senior hitter Mallory Coley said. “We couldn’t be taking our risky plays any more. We can’t be running our usual sets. We had to slow the game down a little bit and just take it easy for a while.”
The tight second set came after the Duchesses jumped out to early leads in both sets.
Dixon led 6-2 in the first set, with Govig starting things off with a block, Olivia Cox adding a tip-kill, and Coley coming up with a kill. A Coley ace and kills from Ainsley Govig and Sam Tourtillott later pushed the lead to 10-4.
In the second set, Coley slammed thunderous kills on two of the first three points, then threw in a tip.
“I was just waiting until I had an opportunity, and then once I had the opportunity, I took it,” Coley said.
Kills from Ainsley Govig and a block from Cox helped the Duchesses build a 12-4 lead.
“That’s our good rotations, our strongest hitters and the longest duration we have for them to be in the front row,” Dixon coach Bunyan Cocar said. “We had good serving and we were able to get up what they were hitting at us and convert it to points. We started the [second set] with two kills right off the bat with Mallory, so it just set the tone for us and we wanted to ride that. We did for a while, but then we just made too many mistakes.”
Slowing the Panthers’ attack in each set was Dixon senior libero Elena Castillo-Wetzell, who had 15 digs for the night and seemed to be in the path of just about every swing the Panthers took.
“She’s the best libero in this area,” Cocar said. “She’s been that good, and she’s been able to get under the ball really well. She gets to the floor really well, and she anticipates. Every day in practice we hit at her without a blocker, and she’s able to pick that up. She instinctively knows the arm angle and where the ball’s going to be.”
But in each set, United Township chipped away at the lead. In the first set, a kill from Lillian Severtsgaard got the Panthers within four points at 10-6 before Ella Govig answered with a kill of her own and Dixon once again pulled away.
In the second set, after falling behind 12-4, the Panthers got kills from VanOpdorp and Severtsgaard to build some momentum. After another kill from Coley made it 17-11 Dixon, UT scored the next three points with a pair of kills from Ella Harris and an ace from Alexis Masias to get within three. The Panthers later made it a two-point game with Tess Earl tipping her way to a kill.
“They showed a lot of stick-to-it-iveness, which is something we’ve practiced quite a bit,” United Township coach Kylie Kuffler said. “I was really proud of them for that. It seemed like we kind of got out of our funk a little bit, it just was unfortunate we dug ourselves a hole.”
United Township (1-6) got five kills from VanOpdorp, and 14 assists and eight digs from Earl.
Coley led the Duchesses with seven kills, nine digs, three blocks and two aces. Natalie Davidson had 11 digs. Ainsley Govig had three kills and two blocks. Ella Govig had four kills and three blocks. Hanna Lengquist and Holli Miller each had nine assists.