Troy still finding itself: Young Trojans finish off sweep of Buccaneers

TROY — After graduating eight seniors off of last year’s team — and losing all of its preseason scrimmages due to the COVID-19 pandemic — the Troy volleyball team still has some things to figure out.

“We’re a young team, and they’re still trying to find their identity,” Troy coach Michelle Owen said.

Thursday, the Trojans learned at least one thing about themselves — they can get it done when it counts.

After blowing visiting Xenia out in the first set, the Trojans found themselves in tight battles late in both the second and third. But when they needed to score, the Trojans were able to find ways to go on runs to put away a sweep of the Buccaneers, 25-7, 25-22, 25-19 Thursday at the Trojan Activities Center.

Troy improved to 3-0 with the win, keeping pace with rival Tippecanoe atop the Miami Valley League Miami Division. But with it being only the third time the Trojans have seen live competition after playing no preseason scrimmages, they’re still piecing some things together.

“We are a young group. We keep mixing up lineups to try to find people that can contribute, or to see if there’s a substitution we can make to help people out. But when I do that, it seems to be kind of hurting our mojo a bit,” Owen said. “But we’re trying to find where kids can fit in and contribute, so we’ll keep playing with the roster.

“These are like our scrimmages. It’s our third match, so we’re still experimenting a bit.”

And lots of Trojans did contribute Thursday.

Anna Boezi led the Troy offense with 12 kills and added 10 digs, two blocks and an ace, Macie Taylor piled up 10 kills, 15 digs, five aces and two blocks and Hallie Westmeyer had four kills, five blocks and two digs. Morgan Kaiser had 16 assists along with two kills and seven digs, while Ellie Fogarty had 13 assists, two digs and a block.

Brynn Siler had two kills and three blocks, Breanna Gray had two kills, Kasey Sager had one kill and two blocks, Brennah Hutchinson had nine digs and two aces, Genna Coleman had eight digs, Ella Curcio had three assists, Amber Poore had a dig and a block and Andrea Prenger had one dig.

After blasting the Bucs in the first set, Troy looked poised to make it a fast night — but Xenia was able to rally in the second, leading as late as 20-19 and keeping it tied at 21-21. But Westmeyer put down a clutch kill and Taylor scored an ace, then after Xenia scored to get back to within 23-22, Westmeyer scored a block and Boezi threw down a kill to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead.

“We started so strong, but then we struggled in Set 2,” Owen said. “At least when we challenged them and said ‘we need to find a way to pull out this set,’ they came through. I was proud of them for pulling it out and not dropping a set.

You always know a team like this is going to play better,” Owen said. “They came here and were just flat after the long bus ride, they didn’t pass well, they missed serves. But we told the girls there were going to play better and we’d have to elevate our game, because they’re going to come out and do better things — and they did.”

In the third, Troy jumped out to a 10-3 lead, but Xenia again kept it close, even taking a 15-14 lead. But a kill by Taylor tied the score and Siler served four straight points to give the Trojans some breathing room, and a Westmeyer kill later closed out the match.

Troy travels to Fairborn Monday and hosts Butler Tuesday — with the first showdown against Tippecanoe looming on Sept. 8 at home.

“We’ve got to be happy with where we are right now,” Owen said. “The girls are playing well, we haven’t dropped a set yet. We’ve got young kids that want to fit in and contribute, we’re trying to find the right setter-hitter combo. All of those pieces we’re trying to get figured out before we get to the meat of our schedule. As a whole, we’re getting better little by little every night.

“We’ve just got to take it day by day and hope we get better every day.”