By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Alex Dietrich made a small adjustment, but it created a big change.
After recording just one kill in the first set Tuesday night, Dietrich improved her focus in the second set and pushed the Quincy High School volleyball team to a 26-24, 25-21 Western Big Six Conference victory over Moline at the QHS gym.
QHS trailed 20-18 in the second set before Dietrich accounted for five of QHS's final seven points, notching three kills and two blocks.
"Focus was everything for me. The first (set), my eye wasn't on the ball. Second (set), I said, ‘This is not going to happen. I'm back,'" said Dietrich, a senior middle blocker who finished with six kills. "I was just like, ‘No excuses. I have to pull this out. I have to lead my team.'"
The Maroons had no answer for Dietrich once she found her swing.
"Alex kind of struggled a little in the first game. Her timing was off," QHS coach Barb Crist said. "I told her, ‘Don't worry about it. It's going to come back.'"
QHS, the defending WB6 champions, needed the strong finish from Dietrich because Moline surged to a 20-15 lead with a 6-0 run.
"I think we definitely underestimated them," Dietrich said of Moline. "They had a lot more firepower than we're used to."
The Maroons threatened to win the first set as well.
Back-to-back kills from Moline's Merritt Johnson tied the set at 22.
QHS (8-0, 3-0 WB6) responded with kills from Monica Bumbry and India Green before Moline tied it again with another kill from Johnson and a kill from Becki Hinz.
QHS claimed the set with a kill by Michaela Llewellyn and an attack error from Moline (3-5, 0-1).
With Dietrich off her game early, Bumbry, Llewellyn and Green, QHS's setter, carried the attack. The trio had four kills apiece in the first set.
"India was just giving the ball to the people who were putting it down," said Llewellyn, who finished with six kills. "Some people were struggling, but we were just trying to pick them up and get the team ahead."
Bumbry finished with a team-high seven kills, and Brooke Agard led all players with 10 digs. Green had a match-high 26 assists, and she was on the service line for QHS's final five points.
Johnson had a match-high 10 kills, as the Blue Devils struggled to handle the junior middle blocker's power.
"(Johnson) was just changing it up. When we thought she was going one way, she went the other way," Dietrich said. "She hits really aggressively, and she has a great cross shot."
QHS established a 3-0 lead in the first set but couldn't pull away. Neither team scored more than three consecutive points until Moline's run to take a 20-15 second-set lead.
"They came ready to play," Moline coach Tim Albrecht said of his players. "We certainly played good defense, and we passed the ball really well."
Albrecht said he wasn't particularly pleased with his team's blocking, and QHS's middle blockers were largely allowed to swing away into open lanes.
Bumbry cashed in on those opportunities in the first set and early in the second set, and Dietrich capitalized late.
"My big thing is always to get our middles established," Crist said. "Once they did get established, we were able to have one-on-one on the outside, and that's always a plus."