NICEVILLE – Following Niceville's sweep of district foe Navarre on Tuesday, Portia Rodgers was asked what she thought of Crestview.
PHOTOS: View a photo gallery from the match >>
VIDEO: View a video from the match >>
"They're definitely going to be our biggest competition in the district," the senior said.
A nod to the strides made by the Bulldogs, who entered Thursday's District 1-7A match against the Eagles at 7-1, the comment affirmed that Niceville isn't overlooking anyone in its big-picture goal of a state title.
That was true with rival Mosley in the season-opening sweep. And that was evident in Thursday night's sweep of Crestview, the second rival to go down swiftly in the Eagles' home gym.
Ashley Hagood had a team-high eight kills to go along with 12 assists, Rodgers delivered a team-best 13 assists, and the Eagles (7-2) served up 10 aces en route to a 25-17. 25-18, 25-16 win over the Bulldogs.
“Same stuff, different day, basically,” Niceville head coach John Michael Plummer said. “All the stuff we're working on in practice is translating into the game. I couldn't ask for anything more.”
Plummer was so impressed that after a couple of lunging digs kept rallies alive and led to Niceville points in the third set, the 23-year-old made somewhat of a TKO motion like he had seen enough.
“We go hard no matter what,” said Niceville senior Breana Rodriguez, who led the team with four aces. “Nothing drops, everything is just go all out. Every point means something so we always have to be on top of our game.”
And Niceville was on top of its game yet again against a rival.
"I guess Mosley was a big rival and we took them out," Plummer said. "These guys are a big rival and we took them out.”
It all happened at Niceville, which Plummer says is one of the most electric volleyball atmospheres in the area.
“We have an awesome atmosphere and I'm really happy with the crowd,” he said. “The girls clearly feed off that.”
Echoing that thought was Rodriguez.
“The student section helps us out a lot, gives us that energy,” she said. “We just feed off of it. We live for it.”
Rodriquez also praised the team's energy and depth, which was more than showcased in the stats. Tessa Morken and Bailey Noon, who had seven kills, each delivered double-digit digs, Sami Mims had five kills and three blocks, and Jen Smith, Stephanie Kaufman and Rodriguez each served up four kills.
“We're all great players, even players on the bench,” Rodriguez said. “And everybody's energy is up, so if we go to the bench we know they're ready to play just as hard as we did.”
But it was Crestview, which was paced by Jasmine Middleton's nine kills and Molly Kitchen's 12 assists, that came out on fire, jumping ahead 4-0 on the strength of two Middleton kills and a block.
But Niceville settled in and overcame Middleton's dominance in the early-going. Mims delivered four kills and Portia Rodgers dished out eight assists and three aces to lead the Eagles to a comfortable 25-17 win in the opener.
Crestview answered with another 4-0 lead, but yet again the Bulldogs couldn't sustain the momentum.
Hagood dished out five assists and Mims shined with three blocks, the last up the middle to cap a 25-18 win. That set the tone for the final set, where Hagood delivered five kills and Kaufman put the capper on the match with a kill up the middle for the 25-16 win.