By Matthew Yoder
Often, slow starts have pinned Arcadia’s hopes for victory. Against Broadwater Tuesday Arcadia had trouble converting leads and found themselves on the losing end in straight sets.
As strong and confident as the Firebirds were early, on the opposite side of the net the Vikings appeared lethargic. The Firebirds built an early 8-3 lead on a short really-laden set, forcing a Broadwater timeout. Out of the timeout, Arcadia played very aggressively, and as their spike attempts sailed just wide, and lucky passes dropped in from Broadwater, they relinquished their early advantage. Strong serving from Imani Press and Trinity Taylor, and a robust back-line spike from Haley McDaniel, helped put momentum back in favor of the Firebirds, but the Vikings only got stronger with their backs to the wall. With no margin for error, McKenzie Mabalot sent three well-placed serves in Arcadia’s direction and helped her team get to within a point at 24-23. Arcadia called a timeout, both to calm their nerves and potentially to ice Broadwater’s resurgence, but the Vikings only came out stronger.
Emily Nordwall delivered on the most powerful spike of the evening to this point and evened the score at 24 apiece. A couple of great dives by McDaniel could not save the point for her team and the Vikings won the first set in stunning fashion, 26-24, closing out on Mabalot’s serve.
Broadwater’s conclusion to the first set drove their focus in the second frame. In similar fashion to the first, they found themselves behind throughout the set, but their memories didn’t have to search far back for guidance and they visibly kept their poise. At times Nordwall single-handedly kept the Vikings in the set. That’s not to say she was without help from her teammates, but her presence in the second frame was so punishing and intimidating to the Firebirds that it appeared as if they did not have an answer to her play. She spiked with ease, force, and accuracy, yet still the set followed a parallel path to the first. Even with Nordwall dominating, Arcadia still had a set point at 24-22. Nordwall made a couple of smart passes, however, evening the score, and a block by Mabalot put the Vikings ahead. The final point of the set was without a doubt the most contested point of the match, and concluded rightly with a spirited spike from Nordwall, again dashing Arcadia’s hopes.
If the second set was quintessential Emily Nordwall, the third was then was a clinic by Virginia Ross. She commanded the net, not only spiking, but by setting a wall that no Firebird could enter. Broadwater had no intention of playing from behind in the third set. They asserted themselves with great ease.
“The last game was more indicative of what they can do, the first two were more interesting than they needed to be,” said Broadwater coach Benji Rew.
Emani Press did her best to keep Arcadia in the set, but there was no way Broadwater was going to relinquish the lead. The Firebirds appeared defeated and having already won from behind in the match, the Vikings knew just what to do to close out the match. Just as Nordwall completed the second set with a thunderous spike, Ross capped her dominance in the third on her serve, with Broadwater winning handedly at 25-14, and three sets to none.