For a few points in the second set, it looked like momentum was swinging towards the Lafayette Lady Commodores.
Ultimately they couldn’t hold on to the momentum as Oxford was able to take down Lafayette 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-13) to take the series from their Crosstown rivals.
At spots, it looked like Lafayette (8-7 overall) was about to grasp control of the match after going up 14-11 in the second set, but Oxford (14-8) went on a 12-3 run after that point and trailed 23-17. On that following point, a free ball was launched from outside Lafayette’s service line and tucked in past the net into Oxford’s front right corner of the playing court. Lafayette was able to win the next two points after long rallies to force a Lady Charger timeout at 23-20. After regrouping, Oxford was able to win the next two points 25-20 to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
“That’s something we’ve been really working on,” Oxford coach Ashley Martin said regarding taking the strong hitting from Lafayette’s Kailey Gooch and Brennice Kennedy all night. “We’ve struggled a little bit picking those up making a few a few adjustments along the way, trying some new things out. It isn’t too late in the season to make some adjustments and change a little bit of the offense and that’s what we did. We changed some of our defensive schemes a little bit (Monday night) to try some new things and try to see how things went especially with the playoffs coming up so that we’ll be prepared.”
All three sets were ultimately dictated by the service runs of Oxford’s Madi Jones. Jones was able to mix up her serves from a hard line drive service to one that gets consistently over the net but doesn’t make it past the attack line, causing the back row for Lafayette to stay on their heels and making the Lady ‘Dores have to cover more ground than normal on an opponent’s serve.
“Madi has been working really hard on her serves every day,” Martin said. “We’ve constantly been working on serving zones. Making sure she is consistently hitting those zones. Getting that where it is just muscle memory. She’s done a really good job of being able to handle that.”
In the first set, after an early 4-4 tie, Oxford used Jones’ service game to go on a 6-0 run to take a 10-4 lead, a lead the Lady Chargers held on to for the rest of the set towards a 25-18 set one win. In set two with the match tied at 15-15, Oxford again used Jones’ service game to another 6-0 run that helped stop Lafayette’s momentum in the second set and withstood an aforementioned late Lafayette run afterward to take a 25-20 set two victory. In the third set with Oxford leading 6-5 early, Oxford this time used the service game of Jones to the tune of 10 straight points to take a commanding 16-5 lead. Appropriately, Jones served out the last two points of the set to win 25-13 and take the match.
“It’s been a lot of repetition,” Martin said in regards to Jones’ improving service game. “If she misses in practice, she constantly like ‘let’s do it again, let’s do it again’ so it has become muscle memory for her. We’ve been working on her short serves a good bit. Just being able to mix that up so its not constantly saying ‘oh, they know where the ball is coming’. We can mix up to where they don’t know where we are going to serve it to for her.”
Oxford was led by the 13 kills from Ainsley Tacke offensively. Ava East added eight kills and five digs for the Lady Chargers. Lafayette was led offensively with five kills each from Gooch and Kennedy. Gooch also tacked on seven digs despite playing mainly on the front row. Chloe Carr led the Lady ‘Dores defensively with a match-high 15 digs. Deundria Shaw had nine digs, London-Grace Daniels had eight digs, and Caitlyn Rhea had six digs defensively for Lafayette as well.
Oxford will play their last two regular season games at home against Lewisburg on Thursday and against New Hope on Saturday. The varsity game on Thursday is currently scheduled to start at 6 p.m. with a JV game before it at 5 p.m. The varsity game on Saturday has a start time of 10 a.m.
Also on Tuesday night, Lake Cormorant defeated Saltillo 3-0, officially knocking Lafayette out of playoff contention. Their last game of the season will be against Lake Cormorant Thursday night. JV starts at 5 p.m. while Varsity will start at 6 p.m.