MEXICO, Mo. -- The Fulton Hornets' Mariah Reed broke the school's career kills record, notching a match-high 12 kills to put her at 662.
Fulton's career kills record was previously held by Carly Page, who totaled 653. In addition to Reed's historic kills mark, she registered five aces.
Trailing early in all three sets, Fulton fought back and swept the Mexico Lady Bulldogs 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-17) in a North Central Missouri Conference match Monday at Gary Filbert Court.
"I gave them Friday off because I had to go out of town," Fulton coach Nicole Murphy said. "We started out slow, and the slowness just carried over into each set. Regardless of the win, regardless of the comebacks, it was just slow.
"I think they won because they know my expectations. They know I won't settle for that. I always push them to be their best and give their best. When we were falling short on that, it really only takes a look for me for them to know they're not meeting their expectations, and they need to get it done."
With the win, Fulton (11-1-1, 4-0 NCMC) swept the NCMC season series against Mexico (1-6, 1-4 NCMC) for the third straight season. It took resilience and a team effort for the Hornets to achieve the sweep.
In the first set, there were seven lead changes and ties. Mexico had the largest lead twice in the set, going up by five at 20-15 and 22-17.
Unfazed by falling behind, Fulton went on an 8-0 run to win the set. Mackenzie Wilson tallied three aces in that run, with the last one winning the set for the Hornets.
Arianna Connor also shined in the first set for Fulton, with two kills and blocks. Additionally, the Hornets' Reed recorded two kills, Emily Elias and Estella VanSchenkhof an ace.
Mexico's first set leaders were Ava Herron, with two kills and aces, and Emily Moppin, with three kills. Herron registered back-to-back aces, and Moppin had two straight kills.
The second set was closer than the already tight first, with nine ties and seven lead changes. Fulton took the most significant lead at four points twice, when it went up 8-4 and 23-19.
Reed tallied five of her kills in the second set. On a couple of them, the William Penn commit jumped up and swatted the ball over the net; Reed's overpowering hits were too much for the Lady Bulldogs to handle.
Following Reed's final kill in the second set, Fulton took a 24-23 advantage. The Hornets finished off the set victory with a kill by VanSchenkhof.
Unlike the first two sets, Fulton and Mexico didn't keep exchanging leads. The Lady Bulldogs and Hornets each went up once, and there was one tie in between that.
Mexico dominated the set early, scoring the first six points unanswered. The Lady Bulldogs kept it up, extending their advantage to 11-2.
During Mexico's run to start set three, it tallied five kills and two aces. The Lady Bulldogs' Lizzie Joiner notched two aces, JaClynn Cline two kills and Mary Test, Herron and Moppin a kill.
"Mexico has continually been improving every single time we've played them," Murphy said. "I've always been more and more impressed by them. They definitely gave us a run for their money tonight. They just had a little trouble finishing in the end. But again, I think it comes down to my girls knowing that my expectations would not allow us to lose that game."
Unhappy by her team's start, Murphy called a timeout when Mexico took an 11-2 lead. It paid off, as Fulton went on a 15-1 run.
Maintaining her dominance, Reed registered four kills and three aces during the 15-1 run and achieved the game set point for Fulton with her final kill.
Wilson did well for the Hornets in the third set, notching three kills and an ace. Filling in for starter Hallie Howard, who wasn't at the match, Brooke Garrett had two consecutive aces.
"I think both of our seniors did really well on the court tonight," Murphy said. "Brooke Garrett, who's also a senior, had to fill in a role. Hallie Howard was out sick today, and so we were down a six rotation.
"It really challenged them with some adversity with the new lineup, as you saw the outer rotation call. Just them being able to adapt to something different tonight was another challenge. Again, no matter who I put on the court, I still expect them to meet my expectations."
Aside from Reed, Fulton's standout performers were Wilson with eight kills, VanShenkhof with four kills and 28 assists and Elias with eight digs.
While it wasn't a resounding victory like the first team meeting this season, Fulton achieved its sixth straight sweep of Mexico, winning 18 sets total. The Hornets also improved to 4-0 against district opponents this season, with the Lady Bulldogs being the only team they've played more than once.
"Our next few weeks coming up are gonna test us," Murphy said. "We have Hannibal coming up, Boonville coming up, who's a district opponent. And then we also see Hallsville in the beginning of October, who's also a district opponent. But as far as competition-wise, I think Hannibal is going to be who we have to work and prepare really hard for."
Fulton hosts Southern Boone (5-4-1) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Fulton High School.
"Southern Boone is actually really solid this year," Murphy said. "I'm really impressed with the lineup that she has on the court for them. We will actually see them this Thursday, and then we'll see them on Oct. 7 at the Eldon Tournament, and we saw them at the jamboree.
"We did keep up with them at the jamboree this year. First time in technically a game situation with my young freshmen on the court. I think they were a little scared. So, hopefully, they're more comfortable with the court. And we're more comfortable playing against a little bit stronger competition now. And we at least make it a really challenging game is what I'm looking forward to."