It may not have been flashy, but it certainly was effective.
Focusing on returning serves and simply getting the ball back over the net, the Oakwood Christian Middle School Lady Eagles nickel-and-dimed and frustrated visiting OLPH on Thursday with a straight-sets sweep that gave them their first victory of the season.
"It feels so good," head coach Emily Shamblin said after the Lady Eagles' 25-23, 25-14 victory. "We've been working hard and we proved that today. Now we're ready to take this on to rest of our season."
Oakwood (1-2) had just seven total kills on the night, but played steady and mostly mistake-free volleyball in both sets, while allowing the visiting Rams to make mistakes and give up points on service and hitting errors.
The first set saw seven ties and five lead changes with neither team going up by more than four points. A kill by Cadyn Cahill put OCA up 10-6 and the Lady Eagles were up 13-10 when OLPH reeled off seven unanswered points, five coming on aces, to forge a 17-13 lead.
However, a service error would halt the run and Mana Gilchrist would serve up four straight points to help OCA retake the lead, 18-17. Gilchrist had an ace in the run, while Callie Vona added a kill.
A kill by Alli Dortch, a great diving dig by Natalie Overton and two aces by Anna Grace Stone increased the Lady Eagles' lead to 22-18, but the Rams would respond. They would win five of the next six points, including two on aces, to knot things up at 23 apiece. However, the next serve would go long before a final unreturnable hit by Caroline Tindell gave OCA a 1-0 lead in the match.
The strategy would pay off even more in the second set. Stone clicked off seven straight service points in the opening stages of the set as the Lady Eagles opened up a 10-4 lead. The Rams would cut the deficit down to 10-7 with three straight points, but that would be as close as they get the rest of the night.
Two aces by Gilchrist and two kills by Tindell down the stretch would give OCA some extra breathing room and the Lady Eagles would finish things off in style with a final ace by Overton.
"Serves were important," said Shamblin, explaining the game plan of letting their opponent make the mistakes. "When it did come back over (the net), we rushed to attack and it paid off. I'm very proud of the girls."
Gilchrist had three kills, three aces and finished with nine total service points. Tindell had two kills, an ace and a spectacular diving dig which led to a point in the second set. Maggie Wright added four consecutive service points late in the match, while Vona also chipped in with seven assists.
The Lady Eagles' JV team fell to OLPH in the night's first match, 25-17 and 25-8. Individual statistics were not available.
OCA will welcome Lookout Valley to Chickamauga on Friday. The JV match will start at 4:30 p.m. with the varsity match to follow.