McNary outside hitter Taylor Ebbs hits the ball past the Silverton block (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

After winning a thrilling five-set match in their first contest, the McNary volleyball team won in much more convincing fashion in their home opener.

The Celtics were challenged in the first two games but still came away with the straight-set victory, defeating Silverton 25-23, 27-25, 25-15 on Thursday, March 11.

“We love being back in our home gym. Our fans are dearly missed. But the girls are really excited to be back on this court,” McNary head coach Crystal DeMello said.

“It's just great to be out here. We were fortunate enough to get a season so we are making the best out of what we got,” McNary outside hitter Taylor Ebbs added.

After taking a 5-4 lead in the first set thanks to a kill from Emily Blagg, Silverton rattled off six straight points to take a 10-6 advantage. But McNary rallied back in what turned out to be a match-changing run later in the set.

Lexi Eldridge found soft spots in the Silverton defense with back-to-back aces. Moments later, a big spike from Eliana Dean gave McNary the 13-10 lead and forced the Foxes to burn a timeout.

A kill by Ebbs after the timeout helped the Celtics continue the rally — McNary rattled off 10 straight points before Silverton was able to stop the bleeding.

"Once we get the momentum and keep our energy up, we're a good team. That's what gives us the confidence to go out there and compete," Ebbs said.

"It just got the whole team excited and pumped up," Blagg added

Silverton clawed their way back to tie the game at 23, but McNary was able to regain the momentum to end the set after Ebbs sealed the first game with a touch-kill that landed in-between a pair of Silverton players.

“Energy and momentum are huge in volleyball, so those runs help our players get into a rhythm. It was a game changer,” DeMello said.

Both teams went back and forth in game two with neither squad leading by more than three at any point in the set. With the game tied at 24, Trinity Kampstra ended a long rally with a huge stuff at the net, allowing the Celtics to gain the advantage. Silverton tied it at 25, but after an error by the Foxes, Ebbs once again ended the set with a kill to give McNary the 2-0 lead.

With a two-set advantage, and all the momentum, the Celtics put an exclamation point on the match with their performance in the third game. With a 16-13 lead, McNary scored nine of the next 11 points to win the third and final set by double digits.

“The key is defense and making sure we know who is covering what space. It's a cohesive effort,” DeMello said.

Matt Rawlings: [email protected]