Hillman sweeps Cardinals for home victory

News Photo by James Andersen Hillman's Kristen Kenyon, left, fights to make a play at the net with a Whittemore-Prescott player during a North Star League volleyball match on Thursday at Hillman High School. Kenyon had 17 kills and eight aces as Hillman swept the Cardinals in three sets.

HILLMAN–When she’s in the lineup, Lyndsey Ryba is usually a difference maker for the Hillman volleyball team.

Ryba made her presence known on Thursday, recording 12 digs and eight digs as the Tigers swept Whittemore-Prescott during a North Star League match at Hillman High School. Hillman won 25-15, 25-16, 25-22.

Hillman had little trouble in the first two sets, but struggled at the outset of the third set before rallying to complete the sweep.

While Hillman fell behind in the third set–the Tigers trailed 16-6 at one point–the Tigers also got a look at the future. All of Hillman’s seniors sat to start the set in order to give coach Amy Moir a look at what her team might look like next season.

“They played with them for a little bit and then they struggled. Went back to usual routine,” Moir said. “Beneficial for me, beneficial for them to see what they need to work on.”

The move also served another purpose; Moir wanted to see if her regular lineup could deal with adversity and rally back.

The Tigers proved her right, going on a short run to cut a 16-6 lead to 17-12. After the Cardinals went ahead 19-12, Hillman seized control for good. The Tigers won the next eight points and 10 of the next 11. A push from Kristen Kenyon and an ace from Alison Samp gave Hillman crucial points and Ryba added two points with a pair of kills.

At the end of the run, Hillman led 22-20.

Ryba was a spark plug in Hillman’s lineup, attacking with hard kills at sharp angles from the left side. With Kenyon adding 17 digs and eight aces, Hillman had a solid 1-2 punch that Whittemore had trouble stopping.

“Lyndsey always plays with energy. She’s always hustling, she’s learned to hit the ball down hard,” Moir said of Ryba. “She’s never lazy and she’s really added to the team.”

Whittemore won the next two points on a short serve and a fault by the Tigers (four hits). Hillman won the next three points to complete the sweep, winning a point on a serve that hit the net and the last two on close plays at the net.

Hillman traded volleys with the Cardinals in the first set, but finally pulled away midway through the set, turning a 12-10 lead into a 21-11 lead before going on to win.

The Tigers did the same thing again in the second set. Whittemore briefly led 8-6, but Hillman caught fire offensively and charged out to a 17-11 lead. The Cardinals won a few late points before Hillman closed out the set.

While Moir was happy to get the win, going forward she’s hoping her team can improve its defensive efforts, which lagged, particularly early in the third set.

“When the teams are attacking the ball at us, we struggle because in practice we’re digging up our own attacks,” Moir said. “We make what should be easy a little harder.”

Hillman plays at a tournament in Onaway on Saturday.