HAMLET — Coaches often talk about the difficulty of beating the same team three times in a single season. Try four times on for size.
The Lady Trojans got off to a slow start in a nip-tuck first game but stepped on the gas in the second set to beat area-rival Argos 25-20, 25-16, 25-16 at the Class A Oregon-Davis Sectional-opener Tuesday night in Hamlet.
It was the fourth time the two teams have gone head to head this season, and all have borne similar results.
“Game one tonight I think was a little sketchy for a couple reasons,” said Triton head coach Samantha Keel. “One, we’ve played Argos four times this season; this is the fourth time. So we had kind of talked before the match that if they’re going to beat us, watch it be in the sectional.
“Tonight we knew we had to come strong. The first match of the sectional, you’re nervous, plus it’s Argos. You’re thinking ‘OK, we’ve played them three times already, can we win a fourth time?’ They say it’s hard to beat someone three times, let alone four, so we’re extremely happy.”
The first game was a back-and-forth affair with the two teams swapping leads six times and a total of 13 ties — the last at 20-20 — before Triton closed out the game with four straight points on serves by Becca Kennedy.
The win swung the match momentum firmly in favor of the Lady Trojans, who jumped out to a 17-4 lead in the second set and trailed again just once at 0-1 at the start of the third and final game.
“We talk about being consistent. Our consistency has been real up and down this year, but it was like once we hit game two, we were extremely consistent,” Keel said.
“Triton, we played them at home, it went five games; it was close. We went three games over at their place in a tournament, so it’s been nip-tuck,” recalled Argos head coach Jim Daugherty. “We thought we’d go five games today, but we got into a little spot, a couple of the girls were down, and that got everybody down.”
The Trojans attack was led by Jaela Meister’s 10 kills with two aces, Lauren Hostrawser with eight kills and two blocks and Kennedy with six kills and a pair of aces. Krystal Sellers recorded 24 assists in her new role as setter to go with five digs, while Casey Scott finished with eight digs, and Holly Stogsdill passed out six digs. Emilee Koontz served up a trio of aces in the win at the Den.
“Emilee Koontz and Becca Kennedy came up huge for us in game two. I’ve talked to Emilee a lot about her consistency, and her consistency in games two and three today were phenomenal. Her digging was great, her hits were great. Emilee Koontz played a phenomenal match today,” said Keel.
“I want to praise my entire team just because we have made so many changes this year, and I have got girls that have played positions that they’ve never played before; I’ve got girls that are playing positions that they don’t want to play,” Keel said. “Krystal Sellers, she is a phenomenal athlete. You talk to any coach who coaches her at Triton or in summer league ball, every coach loves a kid like Krystal. Does she want to set? No, she likes to hit. She’s a phenomenal hitter, but when I talked to her about it she looked at me and said ‘If that’s what’s best for my team I’ll do it.’ She might not have been happy with me sometimes, but she’s done it with a smile on her face and she’s done a great job.”
Argos was paced by Kelsey Kring’s six kills, Sabrina Brown’s 12 digs, Allie Warner’s seven solo blocks and Briana Overmyer’s 12 assists and two aces in a scrappy performance following a recent return to the court from a concussion.
“(Overmyer) is a great kid,” said Daugherty. “She’s got great hands. A couple of the officials even told me tonight they just loved her hands. She’s a great setter. She even missed the last couple games of the season with a concussion, and she just came back to us… She’s been terrific, a good leader out there on the floor. She’s a gamer, she just goes out there to play.
“Kelsey Kring, a lot of talent, a lot of ability,” Daugherty continued. “She’s a quiet kid, not a big vocal leader. She played all the way around for us all year round; she never got sat out. She’s a good passer, a good hitter, a good server.”
Argos closes the year at 7-24 — two more wins than last season’s finish — and will say goodbye to seven seniors in Overmyer, Kring, Warner, Kara Koz, Kirsten Ringer, Sabrina Brown and Ashley Allen.
“We came out the last couple weeks of the season and the very first game we’d win… but we couldn’t continue to do that in the following sets,” explained Daugherty. “So we just came out and played really, really well, but we just couldn’t follow through.
“The sad thing is that some of the teams we play all year, the girls just have it in their head that they’re going to lose.”
Meanwhile, Triton advances to play South Central Thursday at 6 p.m. ET following the Satellites’ 25-15, 25-22, 25-21 win over LaCrosse in the late quarterfinal Tuesday. Culver Community will face off with host Oregon-Davis in the late semifinal Thursday night with the winners advancing to the championship match at 3 p.m. ET Saturday.
“South Central makes us a little nervous,” Keel said. “We played them at our home tournament earlier this year, and they beat us in two. But last year they beat us in our home tournament in two and we came out in sectional and crushed them in three… It’ll be a really good match. It’ll be back and forth.”
• TRITON 3, ARGOS 0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-16)
At OD Sectional, Hamlet
Kills: Jaela Meister 10, Lauren Hostrawser 8, Becca Kennedy 6
Aces: Emilee Koontz 3, Miester 2, Kennedy 2
Assists: Krystal Sellers 24
Digs: Casey Scott 8, Holly Stogsdill 6, Sellers 5
Blocks: Hostrawser 2
Kills: Kelsey Kring 6
Aces: Briana Overmyer 2
Assists: Overmyer 12
Digs: Sabrina Brown 12
Blocks: Allie Warner 7 solo
Records: Argos 7-24 (final)