When players like Carly Bolser and Megan Stanley are on their game, the Mississinewa Indians are a tough team to contend with. Bolser’s height provides a distinct advantage on offense, while Stanley’s all-around play gives Mississinewa a nice complementary piece to go along with Bolser, Darah Watson, and Mia Catey.
Both players shined on Thursday evening in Gas City, as the Indians came away with a three-set sweep over longtime rival Marion (25-14, 25-13, 25-19).
Heading into the contest, Mississinewa Head Coach Jody Havens preached the importance of staying locked and focused throughout the entire match, encouraging her team to keep the pedal down once they took the lead.
Against Marion, they did just that.
“Sometimes if we get a lead, we get too comfortable, so their goal tonight was if we got in that situation to not allow long runs and to not drop their level of intensity on the court,” Havens said. “I was impressed with that.”
Mississinewa built large leads in each set and only trailed once in the entire contest, which came early in the first game.
“I would have preferred if we had woken up before the end of the third set,” Marion Head Coach Dara Richards said. “For whatever reason, it’s always emotional for a lot of them to come here. Any time they play Mississinewa, it’s just such a mental game. It’s a game of mental toughness and passion, and we just didn’t have it.”
The Giants did not have an answer for Bolser, who recorded 11 terminations, eight of which came in the second set.
“We didn’t feel like there was anything coming over that we couldn’t handle,” Richards said. “It’s all stuff that they have played up against, so they should have been able to compete better than what they did.”
Stanley made plays all over the court against the Giants, recording several stout swings in the front row while stifling Marion’s back line with her strong serves. Stanley finished the contest with four kills and a team-leading seven aces.
“This was such a great game for her,” Havens said. “Everybody goes through a little drought, and Megan is her own worst enemy where she will play within herself and one error creates another. She needed this tonight because she is such a solid passer. She is such a solid defender. But she doesn’t always play with the confidence that we have in her. She really took it in strides, and she makes it look easy.”
Marion took their lone lead of the contest at 2-1 early in the first set, but the Indians quickly took control with seven straight points, including three Stanley aces, to take a 10-4 lead that was not threatened. Stanley also collected a pair of kills in a 6-0 surge late in the set.
The second set was close early, but a pair of kills and an ace by Stanley helped the Indians grab a 10-5 advantage. Bolser took over from there, recording kills on eight of the last 15 points of the second stanza.
In the third and final game, Mississinewa built a 9-3 lead and fought through a late Marion surge to secure the sweep. Bolser recorded the last two kills for the Indians.
With three more matches and the Grant Four still to play, Havens’ focus is to get the Indians back to full strength and ready for sectional play.
“We need to fix us first before we focus on [anyone else,]” Havens said “We are still shooting to get a lineup on the floor that we are most confident in. These girls have just rolled with the punches and have been versatile players.”
On the other side, after a tough stretch of matches in recent weeks, Richards and the Giants are just going to continue working and look to regain some confidence.
“I just told them that it’s up to you at this point to decide what the rest of the season looks like,” Richards said. “I feel like we are going into practice and working on things from every match, and they look great, and then they get on the court and they fall apart. We are just going to go forward from here.”
Isabelle Bento led the Giants with four kills, while sophomore Aniyah Rogers finished with three.