Jaeda Allen has seen her share of struggles in recent weeks, but the freshman from Las Vegas is picking the perfect time to find a groove.
With the No. 1 seed in the Region XIV Conference tournament on the line Wednesday night, Allen and her 10 kills helped carry the Blinn Buccaneers to a sweep over the San Jacinto Ravens in the Blinn P.E. Building.
With their 25-19, 25-19, 25-23 win, the Buccaneers clinched the No. 1 seed in the conference and will face Panola in their conference opener at 1 p.m. Nov. 9. The game marked the end of the regular season for the Bucs.
“It was a very good night for Jaeda,” coach Erin Mellinger said. “She’s struggled in the last couple of weeks, but lately she’s kind of gotten into a rhythm –– she’s swinging when she needs to swing and keeping balls in play when she needs to.”
With the conference’s top seed up for grabs, the Bucs played well enough to win the first two sets, but San Jacinto came storming out to a 11-6 lead in the third, prompting a timeout from Mellinger.
The Bucs were struggling with their serve receive and getting their offense in rhythm, which San Jacinto was taking advantage of, but following the timeout, Blinn looked like a fresh team.
“I told them ‘San Jacinto’s not going to rollover and die for you, so you need to add a little pressure,’” Mellinger said.
The Bucs did just that.
Allen fired a kill that sparked a 10-1 run and Blinn snatched back the lead, 16-12.
Holding a narrow 22-21 lead later in the set, and following another Blinn timeout, Allen and the Bucs showed some late-set heroics when San Jacinto looked like it was about to snatch the momentum right back.
The Ravens blasted a kill back to Blinn’s side of the court, and setter Crystal Young, who had a team-high 34 assists, got her arm on a ball that, following another hit, found its way to Allen, who knocked it down for a kill that send the Blinn crowd into an uproar.
“That was a huge momentum shift,” Young said. “At one point we were down by six, then we make a comeback and we get that point. I think it was good for us to take the game in our hands and run with it.”
With the No. 1 seed locked, now the Bucs will be running into the conference tournament.
For more information on Blinn volleyball, visit www.buccaneersports.com.
(Story & photo courtesy: Matt Kaiser, Blinn information)