Eight Heart of Illinois Conference volleyball matches, 16 sets for the Deer Creek-Mackinaw volleyball team.
Tuesday’s home 25-17, 25-19 win over Fisher in Virgil M. Jacobs Gymnasium was the eighth consecutive conference game this season the Chiefs took care of business in two sets, or sweeping all 16 sets against conference opponents.
The Chiefs (13-0, 8-0) started slow against Fisher, trailing by as many as five points in the second set, but closed out the Bunnies (7-9, 1-7) with a 15-6 run to end the set.
Dee-Mack head coach Brandon Mueller tried a new 6-2 philosophy Tuesday, straying from his usual 5-1 philosophy, in an attempt to add versatility to the team.
“We had some girls in new positions and I obviously didn’t coach them up well enough to make it a smooth transition,” Mueller said. “It’s not on the girls, it’s on me.”
Nonetheless, Dee-Mack relied on old faces and new names to rally for a victory.
Sophomore Carson Smalley, who took on a new role with departures of last season’s stalwarts, led the Chiefs with 12 kills after recording nine in Monday’s win over Flanagan.
“Carson stepped up big for us,” Mueller said. “She had a lot of good swings. She’s definitely our go-to hitter. She did an excellent job, especially being a sophomore.”
Dee-Mack’s tendency to go to Smalley for kills is well-known by opponents, Mueller said, but credits the sophomore for working hard and being unphased by the extra attention on her.
The Chiefs met the Bunnies at the net on most occasions Tuesday. Caitlynn Whitaker and Ashley Melton each recorded two blocks.
Whitaker got a rare chance to hit on Tuesday as Mueller experimented with his options on the court, but was happy with the way the senior contributed in all phases, recording a team-high 23 assists.
“She’s a really good hitter, too, but she’s a consistent setter, and I thought she blocked well with the couple chances she had,” Mueller said.
The game was the second consecutive game Whitaker led the team in assists, recording 18 in Monday’s victory.
Eureka also boasted a perfect conference record entering play Tuesday in advance of next Tuesday’s match at Dee-Mack.
For now, the fast start is just fine for Mueller and the Chiefs.
“It’s always good to start off 8-0,” Mueller said. “We’ve got tough matches coming up. We have Fieldcrest on Thursday and I don’t want to look past them. They took Eureka 26-24. I told the girls we have tough matches coming up and we have to play better. If we don’t step up, we might not be on the winning side of things, but I think we’re going to step up. We usually do.”
Lydia Wiegand led Dee-Mack with four digs in the match.