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Gophers sweep Trojans

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ON THE BALL: Clinton Prairie’s Keyra Fisher makes a pass during the Gophers’ three-game home win over Tri-Central on Tuesday.
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FOCUS: Clinton Prairie senior Jalynn Gleb eyes the ball before serving during Tuesday’s home win over Tri-Central. Gleb had long service runs in both the first and second games that allowed the Gophers to pull away.
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GOT HOPS: Clinton Prairie’s Kylee Maish goes up for a spike in a dominant early part (see scoreboard) of the third game against visiting Tri-Central in the Gophers’ three-game sweep on Tuesday.
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GOPHER WALL: Clinton Prairie’s Claire Ecenbarger (2) and Lexi Collins go up for a block making a tip by Tri-Central’s Abby Mast more difficult.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Clinton Prairie got a much needed conference volleyball win over visiting Tri-Central on Tuesday as it goes through a brutal stretch of its schedule.

The Gophers lost four matches at Saturday’s Huntington North Invitational, including two close ones that went to the final game against Northridge and Peru. Against the Trojans, Prairie broke through with a 25-18, 25-13, 25-20 win that evened their Hoosier Heartland Conference record at 1-1.

The Gophers were dominating the third game 16-1 before subbing out senior Jalynn Gleb and freshman Sydney Swan. Tri-Central made it interesting, cutting an 18-2 lead to 21-18 at one point, before the Gophers closed out the match, with Gleb and Swan returning with the score around 20-10.

“I was just trying to get more experience,” Prairie head coach Angie Schilling said. “We played Saturday at Huntington and had four matches there and then we’re playing obviously tonight, tomorrow and Thursday and then (our own) tournament here Saturday.

“So, I want everybody to be ready in case they are needed. Mentally and physically I hope they can stay with it all week because that’s a lot of playing.”

Schilling noted she was substituting so much that she had to remind her players to remember who they were going in for “because I have a couple girls that can go in different spots” and “we all have to stay on our toes and make sure we’re not doing any illegal substituting.

“We were good and everybody got some time, which is a good thing,” she added.

Schilling agreed that her team was competitive at Saturday’s tournament despite not coming away with a win, but saw some problems reoccurring early in Tuesday’s match.

“We did (compete) and the rest of the schools we were playing were (Class) 3A and 4A,” she said. “We hit a lot of balls out this weekend and we started out that way tonight. Once we cleaned that up, things went in our favor a little better.

“The girls are really scrappy this year and there aren’t a lot of balls that hit (the ground). We’re just working the little things each time we play and then we’ll be in good shape when we get toward tournament time.”

With a tough schedule to come, it was good to get a win on Tuesday.

“Yeah, because we’ve got McCutcheon (Wednesday) and then we’ve got Central Catholic (tonight),” Schilling said. “We’re going to have our hands full this week.”

Prairie trailed 8-5 and 13-7 in Tuesday’s first game before Swan made a kill and Keyra Fisher held serve three times to cut it to 13-11. After a Trojan point, Gleb went on a long service run to push the Gophers to a 20-14 advantage, which included three service winners, two kills by Kylee Maish and another kill by Swan.

Gleb went on another long service run in the second game as the Gophers pushed a 15-12 lead to 22-12 before closing out that game. In the third game, Fisher held serve from the beginning for a 10-0 advantage and Caydence Rios five times for a 16-1 lead. After the substitutions, the Trojans’ Madison Neff cut the lead to 20-17 with six service holds of her own before the Gophers regrouped to close out the match.

Schilling saw improvement in several areas on Tuesday.

“I thought Hannah (Wilson) did a really good job,” she said. “She worked on her setting when she was a freshman and then we took her out of that role and now she’s stepping back in.

“Kylee Maish has been put on the outside which is different for her. In the middle last year she didn’t have to wait and that’s what you have to do when you’re on the outside. You have to be disciplined to see where that set’s going and then take your approach and she did a much better job of that tonight.

“Overall, the passing was very good,” Schilling noted. “There was Grace (Carter) and Victoria (Florence) that I put in and it was kind of a wash because they were both passing really well. It’s nice being in that position where I felt good putting either one in.”

Maish led the Gophers with 11 kills, adding five digs and two aces, while Keyra Fisher had a team-high 12 digs with three assists. Hannah Wilson recorded a team-high 30 assists, with 11 digs and two kills.

Other contributors were Gleb (eight digs and seven kills), Swan (seven digs, seven kills and two aces), Florence (six digs and one kill), Carter (five digs), Caydence Rios (four digs and an ace), Maya Rominger (four digs and a kill), Lexi Collins (a dig and two kills) and Claire Ecenbarger (two kills).

The Gophers improved to 3-6 with the win, while the Trojans fell to 1-7 (0-1 HHC).

Prairie’s junior varsity won their match 25-24, 25-8 to improve to 3-2. Kaylee Wall led the team with 12 aces and 10 assists, while Rominger led the JV with six kills and Julia Stillwell had a team-high five digs.