Bishop Ryan junior Maddie Lipp said she and sophomore Gabbie Bohl have struggled with placing their serves lately.
That wasn't the case in a 3-0 District 12 victory over a resilient Surrey team Thursday at Ryan's gym.
Lipp and Bohl combined for 14 aces to key the Lions' 25-14, 25-4, 25-23 win. Both girls like to mix in jump serves with standing serves, but Ryan coach Patty Luetzen encouraged them to work on control first.
"She told me just to focus on staying on the ground and keeping it in," said Lipp, who tallied eight aces. "As we got a bigger lead, I got more comfortable with serving it in places. And once I started hitting my spots, the aces started coming."
The Lions (11-9 overall, 2-3 district) won a relatively easy first game before crushing the Mustangs in game two. Bohl had three aces in a row during an early 9-0 run, and Lipp added four unreturned serves in a six-point stretch later in the game.
Surrey (6-18, 1-7) bounced back to the delight of a feisty crowd that rivaled Ryan's student section in the final game. The Mustangs led 20-17 before four Ryan kills and another Bohl ace gave the Lions a 23-21 lead. Ryan junior Anika Rovig's kill down the line a few points later sealed the Lions' victory.
"They just realized that we needed to block a little bit more," Surrey coach Toshcia Leddy said of her players in game three. "They kind of laid back, hoping that we would get 'em on the digs and that doesn't always work when (the spikes) are that hard. We had more blocking and more coverage behind our blockers that went up."
Luetzen said her team's level of play dropped in the third game.
"When things start to not go our way, that's when we have to step up communicating-wise and I didn't see that," she said. "No matter who the opponent is, you just have to do what you're supposed to do."
Lipp had a match-high 15 assists. Ryan senior outside hitter Quinn Harmon tied sophomore teammate Hannah Stewart with a match-high eight kills and added three blocks.
"I think I played all right," Harmon said. "But it's my teammates, really. I can't get a hit without a good pass or good set. We had some really good passes and Maddie had some good sets, so I have to give credit to them."
Lipp said the Lions' second-game onslaught was triggered by serving and solid passing.
"Passes is always our key," she said. "Whenever we get good passes, I'm able to get a good set and my hitters are able to put it down no matter where I set the ball. ... I think as long as our back row is having a good game, we're able to do anything we want."
Senior outside hitter Kristine Rice led the Mustangs with seven kills and added six digs. Senior Marissa Dyke chipped in six kills and seven digs.
The Mustangs play at TGU on Monday, and Ryan travels to Glenburn on Tuesday.