WILLARD — Willard went on a 6-0 run in the middle of the first set of Saturday’s sectional match against Smith-Cotton and S-C never recovered as Willard won 25-13, 25-14.
“I’m super proud of the girls for making it this far,” said Smith-Cotton coach Darcia Koetting. “We knew it wouldn’t be an easy road from here on out.”
S-C struggled to match up with Willard at the net or adjust to Willard’s hits.
With S-C down 11-8 in the first set, Willard’s 6-0 run started with S-C hitting the ball out of play once and into the net twice.
Willard got a block to go up 15-8 and capped off the run with an ace to take a 17-8 lead.
S-C tried to get back in it as Montana Hedrick got one of her five kills to stop Willard’s run and spiked Tori Jacobi’s set to get within eight. Jacobi had three assists, eight digs, three kills, an ace and a block.
“I think next year she’ll be a good leader for the team,” Darcia Koetting said.
Courtney Koetting later set up Bailey Curry for a kill to make it 20-12 and Curry got another kill to make it 21-13, but two kills from Kara Finkbiner, another from Kaitlyn Williams and a hit out of play by S-C accounted for the final four points of the first set.
“We came out in the first game and I think we were a little nervous,” Darcia Koetting said. “I thought the girls played pretty well, we just played a good team.”
Willard was able to come out firing in the second set to take a 7-1 lead.
“We definitely didn’t get the block up and we also struggled with covering cross court hits,” Darcia Koetting said.
Finkbiner later got two straight kills to give Willard a 10-2 lead.
Once again, S-C tried to claw its back in the match.
Jacobi got a block and an ace to get within 12-5 and later got a kill to make it 19-11, but Willard ended up closing it out with Williams’ kill.
“They have a fighting spirit,” Darcia Koetting said. “I knew they wouldn’t give up and I don’t think they did.”
Jason Strickland can be reached at 660-530-0147 or on Twitter @J_Strick_Sports.