With a six-point lead in the second set, Reservoir’s Chaeli Flotildes stepped up to serve. Attacking the back line of Howard’s defense, Flotildes fired four straight aces.
It was a microcosm of Reservoir’s serving success as the Gators finished with 17 aces in a 25-17, 25-13, 25-19 sweep of Howard.
“We were all very aggressive with our serves, very smart with them,” Flotildes said. “I feel like that helped us push to get to where we are now.”
Reservoir’s serving prowess was on display from the opening set where it finished with four aces. It also helped catalyze multiple stretches of five or more consecutive points to build separation during the frame.
The Gators’ first extended run turned a 10-9 lead to 15-9. Kelsey Holmes had a kill and Madison Hill served an ace in that stretch. Reservoir (4-1, 3-0) later orchestrated a six-point run, pushing a 19-15 lead to set point.
“The serves were a tremendous part of that because our goal right now is we’re just trying to clump points together,” Reservoir coach Carole Ferrante said. “We’re trying to push to get at least three points in a row, to build some of that momentum. So, being able to serve aggressively and get that momentum building just really helps put us into the spot we want to be, to be a little more free to try some other things in the game. If we can get a couple aces and strong points, then we can try to be a little bit more aggressive with one of our attacks without feeling like, ‘Oh you can’t make that mistake.’”
That aggressive mentality translated to the second set, where Reservoir once again executed a long run. Leading 9-6, the Gators scored nine straight points to take a commanding 18-6 advantage, sparked by Flotildes’ strong serving. Those precise serves put pressure on Howard’s back line, leading to several errors.
Senior Mayah Tucker galvanized the attack with a team-high 11 kills, overpowering the middle of Howard’s defense. Leading by two sets, Reservoir kept its foot on the gas in the third. Tucker’s offensive firepower, along with Hill and Holmes, spearheaded Reservoir’s seven-point run to take a sizable 13-4 lead in the third set.
“I feel like once our setters start running our offense, getting Kelsey and Mayah going, it just really brings up the intensity,” Hill said. “From there we just feed on it, especially when our passes are on and the serves are on, everything’s going perfectly. You can see the spark in our eyes and we just hit fireballs out there. I think that’s how we get the lead, take that momentum and keep pushing.”
After Howard (1-4, 1-2) halted the run with three straight points, Reservoir answered back with another six-point stretch, extending the lead to 19-7. Howard continued to battle, but the deficit proved too large to overcome. The Lions offense missed a key piece with outside hitter Corinne Chau out with an injury.
“We have flashes of brilliance,” Howard coach Grant Scott said. “One game the back row is phenomenal and the front row is a little off, the next game the front row is playing great and the back row is off. That was a little more tonight. I can’t wait until I can get everybody healthy, get them all together and we start firing on all cylinders. I think we’ll be a team to look out for in October.”