And as the toughest stretch of the schedule looms, Nancy Miller is beginning to like what she sees from her St. Paul volleyball team.
The Lady Flyers swept their way past visiting South Central in a Firelands Conference match on Tuesday. St. Paul (9-1, 7-0) won by scores of 25-15, 25-14, 25-16.
After hosting Plymouth on Thursday, St. Paul — ranked No. 8 in the latest Division IV state coaches poll — will play one-third of its schedule over the next two weeks, starting on Sept. 25 at No. 11 Monroeville (11-1, 6-1).
“Our next two weeks are big with trips to Monroeville and Crestview next week, then the Convoy (Crestview) tournament after that,” Miller said. “ We follow that up with three matches the following week. It’s time for us to step up right now.
“It’s definitely coming,” she added. “On Friday and Monday we had really good practices, and we’re really trying to attack those areas where we’re weak. I think we’re working hard at improving our blocking, especially because we’re small.”
The Lady Flyers had no trouble in the first two sets on Tuesday against the Trojans (6-8, 3-4). It had build double-digit leads (17-7, 19-6) in both to win by 10 (25-15) and 11 (25-14).
But in the third game, the Trojans got some early momentum. South Central jumped out to a 5-3 lead, and were tied at 8-8. It was just a 15-14 lead for St. Paul when the Lady Flyers’ Kamryn Maxwell put down a kill, and Anna Lukasko lobbed one over for a 16-13 advantage.
The St. Paul lead was 19-13, but the Trojans rallied for three straight points behind the play of Lorin Walcher and Ellery McKee.
But from there, six straight points, including an ace by Maxwell, put the game and the match away for the Lady Flyers.
Maxwell and Megan Hammersmith each finished with 11 kills, and Lukasko added 10.
“I feel like we’re finally making some strides with our hitting and starting to level it out,” Miller added. “They’ve been working very hard, and I have to say Megan — I see stuff that we’re doing in practice that we did with her on Friday that she was already putting in play tonight. That’s great to see.”
Also for St. Paul, Dyllan Knoll had 16 points with six aces and 24 assists. Maxwell added seven points and 12 digs, and Hammersmith added eight points and 14 assists.
Lauren Chandler led the St. Paul defense with 18 digs, and Kennedy Stang had 14.
For South Central, McKee was 98-of-100 setting with nine assists, 16 digs and two aces. Kailee Beaver had 14 digs, while Walcher had 19 digs and was 31-of-36 hitting — and Taylor Sexton was 27-of-30 hitting with five kills.
“My girls continue to work together,” South Central coach Daren Walcher said. “They weren’t ready to give up, whether it was an unforced error or an earned point from St. Paul. I feel pretty good at the end of this match about the effort from the girls.”
South Central is at Monroeville on Thursday, and Walcher is hoping to bottle up parts of the third game from Tuesday.
“It’s what I call flashes of brilliance,” he said. “We’re vertically challenged and we’re very young. So this is good for the team to play a program like St. Paul, because every time we do, we get a little bit better.”