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A-C Valley Volleyball Gets Big Night From Meah Ielase to Hold Off Scrappy KC

KARNS CITY (EYT/D9) — When the set was to her liking, Meah Ielase’s eyes widened.

With a thunderous swing of her right arm, it was essentially an automatic kill and automatic point for the A-C Valley volleyball team against scrappy Karns City, which was playing without its head coach and three key contributors Thursday night.

“She didn’t miss very many swings when the set was there,” said A-C Valley coach Mike Meals. “Maybe one or two all night.”

Ielase had 17 kills as A-C Valley swept Karns City 25-19, 26-24, 25-13. 

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Ielase smile beamed when she talked about her performance. 

“You just feel like,” Ielase paused, letting out a laugh and a shrug. “I don’t really know what it feels like. I can’t describe it. It’s just a great feeling.”

The turning point in the match came late in the second set. 

Karns City led 24-22 and had everything going its way. It looked like the undermanned Gremlins were going to deadlock the match at 1-1 and put even more pressure on A-C Valley. 

The Falcons, though, regrouped and won the next four points — the game-winner on a kill by Lexi Ruckdeschel — to steal the set and a 2-0 lead. 

“Momentum is everything in sports,” Meals said. “The momentum we gained there carried into the third game and got us through.”

Jenna Stefanacci helped Ielase get those kill opportunities with 21 assists. She also had 15 service points. Ielase and her younger sister, Bella, each had 13 digs.

It was the second consecutive match Karns City played without its head coach, Sharon Schmoll, and three key players because of COVID quarantine. 

The Gremlins beat Moniteau, 3-2, Tuesday night. They couldn’t repeat the feat against A-C Valley this time around.

“I am so proud of them,” said Karns City assistant coach Nicole Fox. “I wish it was different, and it’s hard. Every day it’s something new.

“If that second set goes our way,” Fox added, “it changes everything.”

Senior Ashley Fox was a microcosm of her team. She was able to play, but wasn’t nearly 100%, gutting it out through a pair of injuries and a position change for Karns City.

(Senior libero Ashley Fox, left, and senior outside hitter Emma Johns talk with Karns City assistant coach Nicole Fox during a timeout Thursday night)

Fox hurt her shoulder earlier in the season. 

Last week, she sprained her ankle while playing softball.

“I heard a crunch,” she said, snickering. “That’s never good. It’s all swollen and black and blue. I couldn’t even walk on it the first couple of days after. I’m just not as agile on my feet. It’s just hard. My mind wants to move, but my leg and ankle just can’t.”

To simply get on the court at all, she had to move from hitter to libero. 

“I had a shoulder injury and I played through that,” Fox said. “Then I hurt my ankle and they were like, ‘OK. You’re in the back row.’”

Despite her injuries, Fox had a strong match against A-C Valley, diving all over the floor for 15 digs. 

“She’s one of our stronger hitters and, unfortunately, she just can’t jump on it,” said Coach Fox, who is also Ashley’s mother. “She’s libero just to keep her in the game because she’s still one of our stronger passers as well.”

It’s been even more important for Ashley Fox to be out on the floor because of the absent players. 

“We have to keep pushing, keep going,” the senior said. “Every day, there’s something different and we’ve just got to try and push through as a team. I think we’re all so close — we just gel pretty well together. I mean, obviously it’s hard. We have a lot of JV players playing right now who haven’t played varsity.”

Ashley Fox said she is sure the Gremlins can get through this adversity. 

As far as getting through her own pain?

“Lots of ice,” she said, deadpan. “And ibuprofen.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.