Angle, then down.
That’s how Crete-Monee junior Anita Jenkins described the serve she used to take over the match in Tuesday’s 25-21, 25-13 Southland Athletic Conference victory over host Bloom.
“I’ve always served like that. It just goes that way,” Jenkins said.
It was good for four aces in a row, five in a nine-point serving streak that not only helped put away Game 2, but also helped the Warriors finish the first half of the SAC season with a clean sweep.
Jenkins had six aces, two kills and a block. Savannah Kiel added three kills and two blocks, and Bayle Bennett nine digs, two kills and two aces for Crete (12-9, 5-0).
Bloom (10-15, 2-3) was paced by Jelena Rowe (4 kills), Karigan Hill (4 kills), Breann Kalafut (17 assists) and Kyma People-Johnson (8 digs).
The win gained for Crete a measure of revenge for last season’s losses to the eventual conference champions.
“It’s a pretty good rivalry,” Kiel said. “It feels pretty good to be undefeated through the first round. We’ve worked hard all summer and it’s paid off.”
Jenkins’ service explosion turned around a Game 2 that saw Bloom go in front 3-0 on three consecutive impressive plays by Skye McNutt (ace serve), Rowe (kill to the back line) and Hill (block).
It was identical to the start that the Blazing Trojans had in Game 1, only in that one they stayed with Crete almost the entire way, Rowe, Hill and Aminah Perry proving an effective hitting trio. Bloom led 19-18 after a tip for kill by Katie Huante when things spun out of control.
Kiel stepped up for Crete with two kills, but it was a series of hitting errors by the Blazing Trojans that proved fatal.
“We have a younger team that is still working out a lot of things,” Bloom coach Jeanette Neubauer said. “We’ve got four injuries among starters and we’ve had to adjust our lineup almost weekly, so there is very little consistency. Chemistry makes a huge difference.”
It’s made all the difference for Crete, which with six returning regulars is looking to turn a below-.500 record last season into a well above-.500 mark in 2014.
“Anita (Jenkins) has just really come around, into her own, in her second year on the varsity,” Warriors coach Kristy Jones said. “Also, Bayle Bennett is just phenomenal. She can really run the court.
“All six of my returners had experience at the varsity level, so they knew going into this that they wanted to win conference. They want to continue winning (in conference) and they are really excited about regionals.”