A consistent service game can make all the difference in the postseason.
Orleans controlled its opening Class A Sectional 61 matchup against Medora from the line, defeating the Hornets 25-11, 25-17, 25-16 on Thursday.
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After dropping the opening two points, a block by junior Katie Beesley propelled Medora to a 6-3 lead.
However, the Hornets wouldn’t stay on top long.
Orleans junior Hadleigh Smith served 16 straight winning points behind 10 aces to put the Bulldogs up 19-6.
The Hornets responded by taking three of the next four points, capped by a kill by senior Katie Stewart. But the Hornets couldn’t muster a comeback trailing by as many as 14 in the first game.
“Our feet didn’t want to move,” Hornets coach Sara Todd said of the service returns. “The ball was there, but many times it would land in the open space. I think we came out flat.”
Medora continued to struggle returning Smith’s serves, as she pushed five straight winning points to give the Bulldogs an 8-3 advanced early in the second game.
An ace by the Hornets’ Kailen Flynn cut the deficit to 12-8, and a kill from Stewart brought it to 14-10, but they couldn’t get the disadvantage below four points the rest of the game as they fell 25-17.
In the final game, the Hornets took the lead at 4-3 following a kill by Beesley.
The Bulldogs then went on an 9-2 scoring string forcing the Hornets to take a timeout.
A kill by MHS senior Destiny Barr stopped the run at 14-6.
The Hornets won five consecutive points to cut it to 22-15, but it wasn’t enough as they dropped the third game 25-16.
“We improved every game, but you can’t come out like that against a team like Orleans,” Todd said. “You can’t take that long to warm up against a team that consistent. You need to work together, and I don’t think we did that tonight.”
Flynn led the Hornets with 28 hits with four kills while Beesley and Stewart had four kills each.
Medora totaled four aces with two from Flynn and another pair by Beesley.
On their passes, the Hornets were 172 of 218.
With the loss, Medora finished 5-16 on the season.
Barr, Stewart and Kaitlyn Wilson all graduate from the Hornets’ program.
“Those seniors showed a lot of leadership, confidence and guts this season,” Todd said.