Batavia's Meyer lights up Larkin
There's no shame in having a shot blocked by Larkin right side Brianna Stewart, who last season led the Royals with 95.
Try telling that to Batavia co-captain Heather Meyer.
After Stewart stuffed 2 spikes from the Batavia senior outside hitter during an early 4-0 run by Larkin on Tuesday, all it did was fan the natural competitive flames within Meyer to the level of raging inferno.
Though Larkin went on to win the first set, the Royals never again contained Meyer, who torched them for a career-high 18 kills to lead Batavia to a 22-25, 25-14, 25-18 Upstate Eight River victory in Elgin.
"That was definitely motivation for me," Meyer said of the early rejections. "No one likes getting blocked. It got me motivated to do what I like to do."
Meyer's performance in victory upstaged a career night by Larkin outside hitter Olivia Kofie. The Western Michigan-bound senior also set a career high with 18 kills to go with 18 digs.
Larkin (14-11, 2-2) built a 6-point lead in the first set only to see Batavia (14-10, 3-1) whittle it to 24-22, but the Royals held on and took a 1-0 lead after a Batavia shot went wide. That proved to be the Larkin high point of the match; the Bulldogs were the aggressors from that point forward.
Tied 6-6 in the second set, Batavia surged for an 8-2 run, fueled by a kill from senior outside hitter Shea Stanley (6 kills), a spike and a block by senior middle Shea Thayer (5 block kills), a big swing from sophomore Maddy Astling and a Meyer spike off a Larkin defender. The Bulldogs won the second set by 11 points, helped by 5 kills from Meyer, whose shot was blocked once the remainder of the match.
"We had to respect (Stewart) and know where she is because she's one of the best," Batavia coach Lori Trippi-Payne said. "We started running a play where (Meyer) really connects with our setter." That play helped Batavia senior setter Aubrey Faulhaber register 30 assists.
"They adjusted and we kept playing the same way," Kofie said.
"They started putting balls short (of the back row) and going for the seams and they started mixing up their serves," Larkin coach Henry Graack said. "We didn't adjust to what they were doing well enough."
Batavia took most of the suspense out of the decisive third set by using a 6-0 run to take an 8-2 lead. That push was powered by 2 kills from Meyer and 2 aces by junior libero Maddie Jaudon, a co-captain who returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing multiple matches due to injury, Trippi-Payne said.
Larkin drew within 20-16 on a Batavia mishit, but Meyer responded by bashing a Faulhaber set for a point. She immediately followed with a cross-court winner and later smashed her 18th and final kill off Stewart's block to bring about match point, which the Bulldogs won via a Larkin service error.
"We've played some great teams with great hitters like St. Francis, Benet, Providence, St. Charles East and St. Charles North," Trippi-Payne said. "But we can play with anyone because we have some pretty great players of our own."
Junior Jancy Lungberg contributed 5 kills for the Bulldogs.
Stewart finished with 12 kills, 3 blocks, 5 digs and 3 assists, Alyssa McGhee notched 27 assists, 4 digs and 3 kills and Alexis Price added 2 kills and 8 digs for Larkin.
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