By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
FLORENCE – After being swept by Killeen, Florence head volleyball coach Sarah Willman said despite the 25-19, 25-16, 25-21 loss, her Lady Buffaloes felt confident in their switch to a new defense and a new serve-receive formation.
Florence's (2-11) new defense held up to the Lady Roos' (9-4) athleticism until Traecia Nichols heated up.
The senior tied Game 1 with a pair of aces and then closed out the win with a pair of kills.
"She's so consistent right now," Killeen coach Shelly Jones said of Nichols. "Serving, hitting, she's staying on the floor consistently all the time for us."
To go along with her eight kills and three aces, Nichols also had seven digs and a pair of blocks. Tiara McIver had seven kills, seven blocks, 12 digs and an ace and her sister, sophomore Bria McIver also had 12 digs to go along with a pair of aces and a kill. Setter DeVee Cannon had 22 assists.
Lauren Michalka led Florence with five kills, eight assists and an ace. Jamie Burrow also had five kills to go with her four blocks and two aces. Jessica Wiseman had four kills, Kasey Button had three aces and Amber Simpson had nine assists and a kill.
"Our setting and hitting wasn't coming through for us. With the defense being new, we were at least getting to more balls," Willman said. "We knew we had to have key blocks, that didn't really follow through tonight."
After Nichols got the Lady Roos rolling in Game 1, Tiara McIver stepped up for five kills and five blocks in Killeen's 25-16 Game 2 win.
But Florence didn't go away.
Even after back-to-back aces by Carle Foster and kills by Mariah Shaw, DeQuise Robinson and McIver, the Lady Roos led 13-10 only to have the Lady Buffaloes regroup after a timeout and pull even at 16 after Michalka's first kill of the game. Burrow added a block and an ace in the 6-3 run.
Shaw earned her second kill of the night to break the tie but Florence answered with three straight kills by Simpson, Michalka and Burrow to take a 20-19 lead.
"We looked pretty good until that right there," Jones said of Florence's late Game 3 rally.
Florence led again, 21-20, after Burrow's second kill of the game, but Nichols stepped back up down the stretch.
Nichols tied the game with a kill and served the final four points, adding an ace into the mix, to close out the sweep.
"We go into every preseason game and focus on 'let's get better for district'," said Willman. "That's important and I feel like we did that tonight."
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562.