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MACON — Mount Zion frustrated Meridian throughout Monday night's match.

That only mounted with each self-inflicted error by the Hawks.

Mount Zion's young but talented group rolled over Meridian in straight sets, 25-20 and 25-20, in its season debut.

Despite a shaky start by both sides, the Braves started to click midway through the first set while the Hawks never found much rhythm.

Meridian particularly struggled with serves, often dishing into the net.

“A lot of self-inflicted errors in this one,” Meridian coach Tony Holly said. “We knew we had to get our serves in. We had a couple of rallies where we serve one out, side out immediately and served the next ball out. That's never going to serve you very well.

"We definitely have some things to work on that, but I liked the effort. We had some great hustle plays.”

With the building frustration, communication somewhat waned and playable balls occasionally dropped to the floor untouched.

“The girls got kind of quiet,” Holly said. “I kept trying to tell them, 'You got to keep talking.' Even when you noticed Mount Zion got down, they still communicated real well. We needed some of that. We could've used that energy.”

That stymied any momentum for Meridian's offense in its two-setter rotation.

Meridian setters Chloe Herbert and Dominique McPeek each had four assists in the match.

Both may be seniors, but it was McPeek's first start on the varsity floor since her sophomore year.

McPeek missed all of her junior year after undergoing shoulder reconstruction.

“She's been working hard all summer,” Holly said of McPeek. “She's got a great vertical and a great serve when it's on. She's got all the intangibles that you want. But everybody kind of has a low night.”

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With a sputtering offense, Meridian's Chelsea Getz didn't get as many good looks.

Getz, the Hawks leading returning hitter, only totaled four kills.

In the their season opener, Getz had eight kills in a two-set victory over LSA on Thursday.

“We want to see Chelsea get more swings,” Holly said. “She had a great night with eight kills the other night. We need more opportunities. She only got to swing a couple of times. She never got a chance to get into rhythm. That's important for her. She can turn it on and then she's lights out when she's on.”

Mount Zion led by as much as 19-12 and 22-17 in the first set before junior middle hitter Hayden Engelbrecht closed it out with a kill.

The second set wasn't much different. 

Meridian briefly led 10-8, but that slipped away after a couple of service errors.

Mount Zion senior outside hitter Erin Ripple, meanwhile, kept the Braves on track.

One of just two seniors in the lineup, Ripple led the way with seven kills.

“I know we graduated six seniors last year, so this is a different group of girls and none of us have like played together before,” Ripple said. “I thought we did pretty good tonight. I don't think we missed any serves. Obviously we have a lot of work to do, but I wasn't upset with it at all.”

Mount Zion threw in two freshmen and two sophomores to fill those holes. They handled it smoothly, especially freshman setter Stephanie Hurm.

Hurm shined with 14 assists while sophomore Rieley Drake had 13 digs.

“A lot of them were nervous,” Mount Zion coach Jay McAtee said. “They didn't work as crisp as they usually do in practice. That will translate. We just need to get back into the gym, watch the video and learn from it.”

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