Mustangs hand Hawks first loss of season


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Viera High sophomore Mak Carter gets there just in time to save what would have been match point and tie the score at 25-25 in the third set against the visiting Merritt Island Mustangs Friday night. Unfortunately for the Hawks, Merritt Island would score the next two points to win the match 3-0.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

The Viera Hawks and Merritt Island Mustangs put on quite a show Friday night in one of the most highly-anticipated volleyball matches of the young season.

But in the end, it was the Mustangs who came away with the win, sweeping three close sets 25-19, 25-16 and 27-25.

Despite some thrilling back-and-forth moments throughout the match, it was a disappointing night for the Hawks and coach Sarah Wayne told her players they need to be accountable and take ownership of the way the night unfolded.

“I just flat out told them they didn’t play the way that they should have,” Wayne said. “It’s up to them to figure out how they’re going to change to be the team that I think they can be.”

Sophomore Mak Carter led Viera (2-1) with seven kills. She also had three aces.

Another sophomore, Sydney Williams, had six kills and 13 digs. Junior libero Hannah Bradford had a game-high 24 digs. Freshman Mallory Merz had 12 assists and an ace. Junior Kelly Merz had six assists. Senior Kennedy Boswell had one block.

The first set saw the lead change hands four times in the opening moments as both defenses came up with some huge digs to keep the ball in play. Merritt Island, though, would eventually take control and pull away to take a 1-0 lead.

Entering the third set down 2-0, the Hawks raced out to a 9-2 lead in the third set and appeared ready to force a fourth only to see the Mustangs rally.

However, just when it looked like Merritt Island looked like it was going to close things out at 23-19, the Hawks came back behind the play of Carter, Williams, Bradford, Boswell, Kelly Merz and Lauren Lewis and had game point at 24-23.

After knotting the score at 24-24, the Mustangs had a match point at 25-24 but Carter made a great play, lunging to her right and getting a hand on the ball just in time, sending it back over the net to tie things back up at 25-25. But this wasn’t to be the Hawks’ night. Merritt Island would get the next two points to complete the sweep.

“We didn’t pass well,” Wayne said. “And when you don’t pass well, you can’t run your offense.”

Despite the seating capacity being limited to 25 percent per Brevard County Schools policy during the coronavirus pandemic, the match was played in front of an enthusiastic crowd that made for quite an atmosphere throughout the night.

And if Friday night’s match wasn’t exciting enough, the two teams are scheduled to meet again on Oct. 10 at Merritt Island in what will be the final regular-season game for the Hawks before district tournament play begins.

“We’ve never played them twice (in the same season) and we get to do that this year,” Wayne said. “We’ll just focus on that and figure out what we need to do for next time.”