Abby McGraw

Patrick Henry’s Abby McGraw (5) serves the ball as teammate McKenzie Vance (22) follows the action during Tuesday’s Division IV district volleyball tournament opener against Fayette.

HAMLER — Patrick Henry’s volleyball team served aces in all the right places to get by Fayette Tuesday night.

The Lady Patriots totaled 15 aces on the night, including one by Chloe Baird on match point, to sweep the Lady Eagles 25-16, 25-21, 27-25 in a Division IV district volleyball tournament opener.

“Being able to be aggressive without missing those serves helps us along because we can keep them out of system, hopefully keep us in a system that we can go up and just annihilate,” PH coach Hailey Nusbaum said.

Patrick Henry (7-12) meets Antwerp (11-10) in the district quarterfinals 7:30 p.m. Thursday at North Central.

Abby McGraw and McKenzie Vance each served five aces, while Karsyn Weber had three more to pace the Lady Patriots.

McGraw helped break the first set open by serving three aces in a span of five points during a 7-0 run to help PH take an 11-5 lead.

“I was focusing on who looked down on the other side the most,” said McGraw, who also led with 12 assists and nine digs. “McKenzie sometimes throws out numbers for me to serve at.

“I just pick a spot and go around the world almost.”

McGraw also served back-to-back aces to give the Lady Patriots a 24-15 edge and, two points later, Bailey Schwiebert’s kill from the back row gave PH the set.

In the second set, Fayette jumped out to a 5-1 lead.

Weber soon stepped up to the service line and reeled off all three of her aces, two back-to-back, in a four-point span to cap a 7-0 PH run.

That pushed the Lady Patriots ahead 7-5 and they never trailed the rest of the set.

PH sustained enough offense to keep Fayette at bay as Kelsey Smith had three kills, the last on set point from her middle position.

“We played a decently clean game tonight,” Nusbaum said. “There were those little areas where it seems like we just could not find the court, but, overall, all of our hitters produced like we wanted them to.”

Patrick Henry nearly gave away the third set after leading as large as 12-4 to start.

Fayette crept within 20-16 and eventually served for set point at 25-24. However, an attack by the Lady Eagles was ruled just wide left, giving the Lady Patriots new life in the set at 25-all.

Vance pummeled a kill in the middle before Baird lofted her ace over the back row and just inside the back line as a Fayette player tried to let the ball go long.

“There was a lot of miscommunication,” Nusbaum said of the third set. “This isn’t the time to allow those errors to occur, especially since we’re moving on to a higher seed on Thursday.

“Hopefully tomorrow at practice, we kind of hone in on those little areas and are able to use those fundamentals on Thursday.”

McGraw shared the same sentiments about the team’s miscommunication.

“We all worked pretty hard; I feel like it was a pretty controlled game for us,” McGraw said. “The only thing we really could’ve done better is communication and movement.”

Trista Fintel’s eight kills led PH, while Vance added seven kills with seven digs and four blocks.

Vance’s jumping presence at the net alone often led to several unforced Fayette hitting errors as well.

“McKenzie is always that big force up there for us,” Nusbaum said. “We know she’s always going to be there and the other teams know that as well.

“They’re trying to think ahead and push around her, so that plays into getting into their head and knowing there’s somebody there, not just an open net for them.”

Also for PH, Smith added five kills; Baird made seven digs; Whitney Johnson and Taylor Crawford each had six digs; Schwiebert had four digs; and Baylor McGraw chipped in eight assists.

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