MOUNT UNION - It's no coincidence that Mount Union's volleyball team finds itself scoring more points when Kristin Miles is at the net - anyone who kills that much usually draws a life sentence.
Miles' driving spike bamboozled Glendale 19 times across three sets, as Mount Union swept the Vikings, 25-11, 25-9 and 25-17 in an Inter-County Conference match Thursday.
No single player can win a match, and that was the case for the Trojans, who saw long scoring runs drive the high-margin victories in the first two sets. Mount Union gave up a point here, a point there in the opener, but rattled off five straight points to move the lead to 15-5, then another five-point run rebuilt the margin thanks to extra effort in the middle of the court, keeping balls in play that could have been points against.
"We usually have a big problem with communication," Mount Union coach Tessa McCormick said, but not in this match.
"There was no hesitating when we were going for the ball - they just went for it," she said. "The end result was we didn't let them run up the score at the beginning of the game as we tend to do in some other games we've played."
Although her team had some difficulties setting the ball, the Vikings were more troubled, playing low at the net and giving points away. A few nice saves by Mount Union early in the set led to a stunning point to all but clinch it after a long volley, making the score 23-10. The Trojans gave up one after that then put it away.
IF YOU GO
Mount Union travels to West Branch Monday
The second set made the first one look close. After giving two points to start, Mount Union went on more of a rampage than a run, scoring 12 of the next 13 points. A trio of aces later in the set - including a consecutive pair that made it 19-6 - drove Mount Union toward another win.
While Miles did a lot of the heavy lifting, this set saw more players with more opportunities to score, and they came through. The defensive play helped prevent the middle from becoming soft, and deliveries to the net by Ashlyn Drake gave extra opportunities to build the lead.
Drake was good for 13 service points on the night, recorded 22 assists, eight digs and added four kills of her own. The fact that she was one of three players with four kills - second behind Miles, whose total exceeded that trio - speaks to how strong a presence Miles is at the net for Mount Union.
"You can tell just by watching the game that we try to get her the ball as much as possible, just because she's usually the finisher," McCormick said. "I also think that our back row, as far as defense, did well tonight. They tipped a lot, pushed a lot and I thought we picked up a lot of those balls."
The first two games were put away almost from the start, with extended runs of scoring by Mount Union. That, McCormick said, may have been responsible for the third game, in which unforced errors allowed Glendale to catch up twice, even leading at one point.
"All that was, was they relaxed a little bit too much because of the first two games," said McCormick, who added that she encourages the girls to have fun. "They were having too much fun, which as a coach is very discouraging."
Brya Crawley helped the team with 12 service points and eight digs; Aly Kyler had nine digs. Brittany Brumbaugh and Marissa Dimoff joined Drake with four kills. And Chapin Guiliante had six assists.
"We were fortunate enough to have a deeper bench this year, which helps out a lot," McCormick said. "We had a couple things happen this season where we had to move some girls around and I think really they've adapted quite well. A lot of them are not playing in their natural position."
Mount Union also won the JV match, 2-0.
The Trojans (10-8) travel to West Branch Monday.