High School Sports

Emma Funk powers OLA volleyball team past Vancleave

OLA’s Emma Funk
OLA’s Emma Funk ttisbell@sunherald.com File

Emma Funk used finesse and power to record 34 kills Tuesday to lead OLA past Vancleave 3-1 in high school volleyball.

The Crescents took the first two games 25-19, 25-15 before the Bulldogs won the third 25-22. OLA closed the match with a 25-17 win.

Despite the match win, OLA coach Mike Meyers was not happy with his team’s performance.

“We came out and things were easy for us,” Meyers said. “We had too many unforced errors. We did not pass the ball well. We have to be much more consistent passing the ball and serving.”

Funk, the reigning Sun Herald Volleyball Player of the Year, agreed.

“We played well at times, but we had a lot of unforced errors,” Funk said. “We allowed Vancleave to make a run. You try to stop the other team from making runs as volleyball is a game of momentum and you want to keep the momentum. We have to stay strong throughout the game and not let the small mistakes get to us. We can work those things out at practice.”

Vancleave coach Haley Chatham was happy with the way her team played.

“I think we did really good,” Chatham said. “We fought hard and never gave up. It shows we have a bright future.”

Behind Funk, who had three kills and a block early, and three Hannah Gest aces, OLA came out looking to dominate, jumping to a 12-1 lead in the first game.

However, Sydney Salter hit a pair of aces for Vancleave to stop the Crescents’ momentum. Behind Carly Danley’s two kills, a block for a point and an ace, the Bulldogs came back and tied the first game at 18 on a Paige Davis service ace.

That’s when Funk started taking over, finishing the opening game with four kills to go along with Carson Cuevas’ two aces late.

In the second game, the Bulldogs’ youth showed up as Vancleave committed 12 errors for OLA points, including two service errors. Funk continued to pound away at the Bulldogs’ middle with five kills and an ace.

OLA returned the favor in the third game with eight errors to help Vancleave stay alive. Still, behind four Funk kills and a block, the Crescents held an 18-17 lead late in the game. However, Payton McKerchie would reel off three straight aces and Cheyenne Strickland added a pair of late kills as the Bulldogs pulled out the game.

The final game saw a flurry of OLA service errors as four of the Bulldogs’ first seven points came off Crescent serves allowing Vancleave to keep close early, down only 11-8. But Funk and Alia Tayara recorded three kills each down the stretch to end any threat of the Bulldogs taking the match win.

Alia Tayara added 12 kills for OLA and Gest set the hitters up with 26 assists.

McKerchie led Vancleave with eight kills, five aces and two blocks and Strickland finished with seven kills.