Throughout St. Anthony's 11-4 start to the season, coach Kristie Bailey has preached aggressive serving and capitalizing on free balls as the key for her Lady Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs have taken it to heart throughout the year, but rarely with the efficiency they showed Tuesday night in a 25-9, 25-12 win over Cowden-Herrick at the Enlow Center.
Outside of a quick start for Cowden-Herrick where the Hornets took a 4-2 first set lead, St. Anthony controlled the tempo throughout and moved to 4-0 in the National Trail Conference.
"We like free balls a lot, and they gave us a lot of them," Bailey said. "We were practicing serving a lot more aggressively, and it showed tonight."
The aggressive serving paid off, as the Bulldogs combined for 13 aces on the night through a combination of them falling in or the Hornets not being able to return them.
The tough loss for Crystal Wehrle's Hornets (3-2, 0-2 NTC) showed Cowden-Herrick what they will need to work on to reach the top of the conference.
"Lots of lessons learned," Wehrle said. "We're going to work on a lot at practice tomorrow."
After falling behind 4-2, St. Anthony went on a 7-0 run behind Emily Wortman at the service line. While the Hornets kept fighting for points, St. Anthony cruised to the set victory, scoring 23 of the final 28 points in the set for the 25-9 win ending with a Haylee Mathis ace.
The Bulldogs got out to a fast start again, taking a 7-2 lead and 9-3 lead in short order.
The aces kept coming, as well as a number of high-powered kills by Lauren Wendt and Logan Braunecker as the second set went on.
St. Anthony ended the set with four Rachel Schultz aces in its last six points to take home the victory.
"They did have a lot of balls they had to chase down and get," Bailey said. "We like to run our fast offense like that, make people scramble. We knew they going to be defensive team and we were going to get balls back, and our goal was not to make our hitting errors. We didn't."
Haven Lorton and Jensyn Morrison each had two kills, with Morrison recording two blocks as well. Ashley Davis had one ace.
The Hornets did not play with the fire Wehrle expected and saw from them in a close win Monday night against North Clay.
"We just didn't play our game tonight," she said. "We played last night, we were all over the floor and we returned everything. Tonight, we walked in this gym, and we didn't return anything."
Schultz led the team with four aces, Wendt topped the team with six kills, Megan Nuxoll had three aces, three kills and six digs and Mathis topped the team with 17 assists.
Cowden-Herrick hosts its co-op rival Beecher City Eagles Thursday night, while St. Anthony (12-4) is of until this Saturday's St. Anthony/Newton Volleyball Invitational.
Cowden-Herrick 9 12
St. Anthony 25 25
C-H: Davis (1 ace); Lorton (2 kills); Morrison (2 kills, 2 blocks)
SA: E. Wortman (2 aces); Mathis (1 ace, 2 kills, 2 digs, 17 assists, 1 block); J. Woltman (1 dig); Wendt (1 ace, 6 kills, 1 block); Braunecker (4 kills); Mumm (2 aces, 3 kills, 1 dig, 1 block); Nuxoll (3 aces, 3 kills, 6 digs); Schultz (4 aces, 4 digs, 1 assist); Schmidt (2 kills, 1 dig)