Verona shook off a slow start en route to a 21-25, 25-16, 25-12, 25-16 road win over Madison Memorial on Thursday, Oct. 3

The Wildcats (29-4) stayed atop the Big Eight Conference with a 7-0 league record.

Jordan Armstrong, a University of Pennsylvania commit, recorded seven service points to begin the second set, mixing in float serves to keep the Spartans out of system.

“The gym really affects how I serve,” Armstrong said. “Plus, the float serve is a lot harder to handle than a regular top-spin serve.”

The two teams traded points for the rest of the set.

Verona scored seven straight points to jump ahead 11-5 in the third set. Megan Touchett and Delaney McIntosh each had two kills, Memorial had two hitting errors, and Amelia Hust served an ace during the run.

The Spartans trimmed their deficit to 15-12, but the Wildcats finished off the set with 10 straight points. Memorial hurt itself with five hitting errors, Armstrong served back-to-back aces, Claudia Bobb slammed two kills and Rachel Witthuhn recorded a stuff block.

“We’ve talked all season about out-working the other side,” Verona coach Jillian Bauer said, “whether that’s our defense, communication or bench. Our bench came to life in the final three sets, and that helped the on-court kids get going.”

The two teams traded short runs early in the fourth set before the Wildcats went ahead for good up 11-9, as Maddy Kelley crushed back-to-back kills and the Spartans had another hitting error. Bobb slammed back-to-back kills to make it 23-13, and a Touchett kill and Memorial service error ended the match.

Bauer used two timeouts in the match’s first 12 points with the Wildcats down 9-3. Verona used a 7-1 run to tie the set at 10, as Hust picked up six service points and Touchett had a pair of kills.

The Wildcats took their first lead of the set up 13-12 on a combination block by Kelley and Bobb, but the Spartans closed the first with a 7-2 run.

“Part of it was beating ourselves, and part of it was not coming ready to play,” Bauer said. “The girls know I’m a pretty direct person, so I called them out on it. They responded very well.”

Armstrong finished with 35 assists and five aces. Bobb recorded 14 kills, while Hust had 14 digs. Kelley and Witthuhn added two blocks apiece.

Sports editor Adam Feiner can be contacted at ungsportseditor@wcinet.com.