With no Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament this season, the Columbus East volleyball team realizes the importance of winning each conference game.

That was the mindset Saturday when the Olympians opened their HHC schedule against visiting Jeffersonville. East, ranked No. 5 in Class 4A, needed only three sets to claim a 25-16, 25-20, 25-16 victory.

“Especially not having a conference tournament, it’s nice to start conference off on the right foot,” East coach Stacie Pagnard said. “The meat of our season really starts next week with Seymour (Tuesday), and then we go into some big-time tournaments, so we’re going to be tested right out of the gate.”

The win didn’t come easy for the Olympians (2-0, 1-0). The Red Devils never let East get on any kind of a long run.

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Jeffersonville was within 10-8 in the first set before the Olympians began to pull away. The Red Devils led 12-11 in the second set and 10-9 in the third set.

Pagnard used three different lineups with two liberos and different offensive options.

“We’re still trying to piece some of those critical pieces, whether they’re three-rotation kids or one-rotation kids, and find the right spot for them,” Pagnard said. “So I think that’s what today and last Tuesday (a season-opening win at Bloomington North) were examples of.”

Cortney VanLiew and Bailey Western each pounded 12 kills for East, while McKenna Chandler and Allison Mack each added six kills. Kendal Williams recorded 40 assists.

VanLiew also had 15 digs and two aces. Brooke Banister added eight digs.

“We’re trying to find a flow of the game and figure out where everybody is on the court,” Western said. “We communicated very well and played together as a team and just went out there and got after it.”

Alaysha Pollert had six digs and led the Olympians with three aces. The first of those aces came on the final point of the first set.

“We really communicated with each other,” Pollert said. “There’s always some things we could tweak a little bit, but we can always pick that up in practice. We’re still trying to mesh with each other. We have a couple of freshmen coming in, and we have a lot of seniors, and we’ll get there.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.