Stryker's Emma Grime

Stryker's Emma Grime (4) goes up for a kill as Montpelier's Ariel Page (14) attempts to block during a volleyball match in Montpelier, Thursday. MATT REID/Staff

MONTPELIER — The Stryker volleyball team continued its roll through the Buckeye Border Conference Thursday, sweeping Montpelier 25-13, 25-15, 25-15 to stay in second place in the conference standings.

Although Stryker’s offense was hot Thursday, Panthers coach Colleen Planson credited the team’s defense in the win.

“Our defense was on point,” she said. “I told them that multiple times during the timeouts. I wanted to compliment them because a lot of times defense doesn’t get the recognition and let them know they were really doing a good job. Not a lot of balls hit the floor and I think you could see that from just watching the game.”

The Panthers (6-4, 5-1 BBC) took a commanding 14-2 lead over Montpelier in the first set ignited by 11 straight service points by Kalista Blevins. The Locomotives (2-8, 1-4 BBC) played back-and-forth with Stryker, but the 12-point lead was too much to overcome and the Panthers won 25-13.

The second set started better for the Locos, but after a 5-5 tie, Stryker rattled off seven straight points to take a 12-5 lead. A lot of Montpelier errors gave the Panthers points and Stryker would capitalize, winning the second set 25-15.

After beginning the third set tied at two, Stryker outscored the Locos 8-1 to take a 10-3 lead, before Montpelier chipped away to bring the game within three at 15-12. From there, more errors cost the Locos and the Panthers went on a 10-3 run to end the set, 25-15.

“We had 55 errors tonight,” Montpelier coach Khrysta Coleman said. “We basically won two sets for them with our own mistakes. We need to tighten up on errors and make sure we’re not just giving points. If they get a point on a kill, I’m fine with that to a certain extent, but at least they earned that point. We are earning points for our opponents and that needs to stop.”

The nucleus of points scored for Stryker came from middle hitter Courtney Stewart and outside hitter Emma Grime. Stewart recorded 14 kills and 14 digs against the Locos, while Grime added 12 kills, along with five aces.

“We have worked so hard this year on Courtney’s swing and I feel like tonight was the night that it clicked for her,” Planson said. “She really figured out where her arm swing needed to be and her controlled swing is what we’ve really been focusing on.

“Emma has had some issues going on with her back and I think we finally got it figured out today. Her setting was on, which makes her hitting on even more. We’ve been working on her timing and getting her hand on top of the ball, so tonight was nice.”

Besides an early-season loss to BBC-leading Pettisville, the Panthers ran the table in the first half of the conference schedule, sweeping all other opponents and are hanging just one game behind the Blackbirds as the second half of the conference schedule begins.

Pettisville beat Fayette Thursday to stay on top in the BBC and keep its amazing 59-game conference win streak alive. Planson said she thinks Stryker is peaking right now and feels the Panthers have a good chance to take down Pettisville when they host them on Sept. 25.

“I feel like our girls can take on anybody,” Planson said. “I have full confidence in my team and I will always bet on my girls to win. I know how much effort they put in and how well rounded they are as a team and how deep we are, so I’ll always bet on my girls.”

Stryker’s Brittney Haines led the Panthers with 29 digs, while Makenzie Cadwell added six kills and Kalista Blevins added 2 aces on 21 serves.

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