Oct. 5—DALEVILLE — Like a morning commuter that has not yet had that first cup of coffee, the Daleville Broncos volleyball team seemed to need a jolt of energy Monday against Jay County.
Coach Valorie Wells found that burst off her bench, and after sleepwalking to a 2-0 deficit, her Broncos stormed back to take the next three sets —including a dominant fifth set performance — for a dramatic 3-2 win over the Patriots.
Daleville (19-7) was led by senior Audrey Voss with 14 kills and three aces in a match where she seemed to be the only positive to report from the first two sets when Jay County (10-14) outscored the Broncos 50-31.
"Not only does Audrey find ways for herself, she's such a team player," Wells said. "When someone messes up, she'll tell them what's open. She'll nonstop talk to people on the court about what we're running ... she'll nonstop talk, and she'll make people smile."
"As long as we're all having fun, we're going to win," Voss said.
In the first two sets — although Daleville jumped out to early leads in each — there wasn't much fun to be had, and there were few signs of a coming victory. The Broncos struggled with their serve receive and passing game, and the six kills from Voss were among the few bright spots early.
The energy had to change, and it came in the form of senior Sydney Nixon off the Daleville bench. Nixon finished with two kills, an ace and numerous key digs, but it was the injection of enthusiasm Wells needed more than any statistical contributions.
"Our seniors really led us," Wells said. "I put Sydney Nixon in, and she really turned the energy up, and we needed that. She was having the energy on the bench, and I wanted to see if she'd bring that energy to us (on the court), and she did."
In the third set, Daleville jumped out to a 7-2 lead, and after losing early leads in the first two sets, the Broncos were able to build on the advantage. They built the lead to 17-10 before taking the set to stay alive.
The fourth set saw Jay County jump out in front, but an increase in service pressure kept the Broncos close. They took their first lead at 19-18 on an Amarah McPhaul kill before consecutive Julia Andreassa aces started a 4-0 service run to close out the set to force the decisive fifth.
Wells did not have to do much of the talking during the huddle prior to the final frame.
"I really actually made them talk," she said. "I wanted them to figure it out and come together. There are a lot of senior leaders, so I really wanted them to talk about it and figure it out."
"We all had something different to say," Voss said. "We had to keep the energy, and we knew that. If we gave them one point, we had to end it after that one point."
The Patriots did not score back-to-back points in the fifth set.
The teams traded points until a thunderous McPhaul kill — her ninth and final of the night — gave Daleville the lead for good at 4-3. Three consecutive Patriot errors expanded the lead to 7-3 before a timeout was called, but that McPhaul kill seemed to take out any wind left in the Jay County sails.
"We got in the huddle after that point and said their energy is gone, pedal to the metal here," Voss said. "Amarah is one of those people that, if she doesn't get set for a while, you know a good kill is coming soon."
McPhaul also led the Broncos with four blocks.
Another Jay County error was followed by kills from Trishell Johnson and Andreassa for a 9-4 lead before the Patriots could pause the Broncos run.
But Andreassa recorded her 11th kill to give the serve to Voss, and she closed it out, thanks to a Johnson block and an ace and a kill of her own.
Emilee Finley recorded 37 assists and two aces — on the first two points of the match — for Daleville while Andreassa added 11 kills and a match-high five aces.
The Broncos have two more regular season matches, Wednesday at Monroe Central before finishing with Liberty Christian at home Thursday. Daleville then opens sectional play at home with a bye into the semifinal Oct. 16 against the winner of a first-round game between Anderson Prep and Wes-Del.
Contact Rob Hunt at email@example.com or 765-640-4886.