BURLINGTON >> Lewis Mills’ defense was as impressive as its offense in a 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-19) blitz of Farmington at Lewis Mills High School Friday evening.
“They dug everything,” said Farmington coach Juliette Givens.
Three weeks ago, it took the Spartans (10-3) five games to overcome the powerful front line of the Indians (6-9).
Friday, nuances instilled by Lewis Mills coach Jim Barone were on full display.
“We stress placement over power,” said Barone. “We want to know where to hit and where to serve. We want to remain consistent in our skills and in our heads.”
“We didn’t know what to expect coming into this season because we lost a lot of good players (to graduation),” said senior Anthony Licata.
In a season of progress, consider the holes filled in as of Friday.
Farmington has some truly fearsome hitters. Senior Neville Buxton (14 kills, 8 blocks) hit a shot that knocked Ben Lewis down in game two – while Lewis sent the shot up in the air on his way down.
“We have a lot of good hitters. We face them every day in practice,” Lewis said.
“A good dig is as good as a kill,” said Kevin Kryzwick (4 kills).
Kryzwick missed the match at Farmington with a sprained ankle. Coach Barone credits his return as a piece of the difference Friday.
Kryzwick was a key part of the physical game, but also a key part of the head game Barone discussed.
“Our performance has a lot to do with the energy of the team,” said setter Lorenz Gunzl (29 assists, 3 kills, 1 block). “When it’s down, we don’t support each other.”
Power or not, the Indians faced a solid wall of support on Friday. If there were any consistent holes, Farmington didn’t find them.
“We have a philosophy: nothing hits the floor,” said Licata.
“Defense was the difference,” Coach Givens agreed.
“It’s all effort and determination,” said Barone.
Friday, it applied to serving as well. Almost invariably, when a Spartan stepped to the line, the serves were solid.
All the pluses gelled into a 25-12 cruise in Game One.
Game Two was closer. The Spartans built an 18-9 lead. Then Farmington earned a 7-1 mini-run to 19-16.
Robert Oakley and Carson Frey (9 blocks) combined for two blocks in a row; Matt Lizon (8 kills, 15 digs, 4 aces) served two aces in the string.
The Indian momentum was a flashback for Barone.
“We were struggling to close out games at the beginning of the season,” he said.
Breaking the opposition’s momentum breeds another Barone mantra.
“Move on to the next play,” he says.
“Coach says we have to be a moving target,” said Kryzwick.
At 19-16 in Game Two, Barone called time out to remind his team of those things.
At 23-19, Lewis took the knock-down shot from Buxton, keeping it alive with a smile on his face.
Buxton got that point on another try.
Nevertheless, Lewis’ dig took the kind of effort, determination and energy that sticks in everybody’s head, teammates and competition alike.
Mills closed out Game Two, 25-21.
The Indians stayed in Game Three through an 11-11 tie.
Spartan energy, effort and determination brought the final boost, 25-19.
Lewis Mills 3, Farmington 0
(25-12, 25-21, 25-19)
Highlights: F – Neville Buxton 14 kills, 8 blocks; Matt Lizon 8 kills, 15 digs, 4 aces; Carson Frey 9 blocks, 7 kills. LM – Anthony Licata 10 kills, 9 digs, 2 blocks; Ben Lewis 12 kills, 10 digs, 2 blocks, 4 aces; Lorenz Gunzl 29 assists, 3 kills, 1 block; Kevin Kryzwick 4 kills.
Records: Farmington 6-9; Lewis Mills 10-3.