Instead, the first-year varsity player and sophomore hitter for the Norwalk volleyball team gets nervous when there isn’t a score at all.
“I get more nervous about starting off strong at the beginning of a match than anything else,” Bilton said following Norwalk’s wild four-game win over visiting Perkins Tuesday night. “At the end, all I’m worried about or focused on is getting that next point. It’s really intense — but I don’t get nervous.”
Bilton finished with a match-high 21 kills on 43-of-49 hitting as Norwalk recovered from a 25-23 opening set loss against the Pirates to win the next three, 27-25, 25-18, 25-14.
With the win, Norwalk improved to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the Lake division of the Sandusky Bay Conference. It also extended its league/division winning streak to 71 matches dating back to the Northern Ohio League.
Already trailing in the match, Norwalk took control with a 19-14 lead in Game 2 — but that quickly disappeared. The Pirates (3-2, 1-1) roared back to tie the match at 19, but it again appeared the hosts had settled in after an Aimee Smith kill put Norwalk ahead 21-19.
Then things got wild.
Tied at 22, the Pirates took a 23-22 lead, and again led 24-23 and 25-24 with chances to serve game point and go up 2-0. But each time, Norwalk got the answer in the form of a kill by Bilton and Claire Kelley.
Perkins then made a hitting error, and Smith put away the 27-25 win with a kill.
In Game 3, the frenzied pace only continued. Leading 20-18, Norwalk won a point that featured a back-and-forth volley that spanned 12 hits over each side of the net. The very next point, a similar lengthy volley played out — also won by Norwalk for a 23-18 lead. The Ladies in Blue then closed out the 25-18 win moments later.
Perkins coach Heath Hamilton, a New London graduate, admitted his team ran out of gas — and it showed in Game 4. It was all Norwalk in a 25-14 win, fittingly sealed on a kill by Bilton.
“The first two games were really well-played and went back and forth — but we got fatigued,” Hamilton said. “Physically, and I think a little mentally, too. That’s something we need to work on before we see them again at the end of this month.”
The back-and-forth match was nothing more than an old hat for Norwalk coach Angie Kalizewski.
“I tend to have a history of coaching in those kind of games in my time here,” she said. “My thoughts never waver on what we’re capable of doing — and I think that plays a big part in what my kids feel.
“I don’t really realize when things get like they did tonight, because anything is possible,” she added. “Volleyball is a sport where momentum can change at any second. So I think a little of that transfers to the girls. We practice composure, because if you can’t keep that under control, that alone will lose you a game.”
Bilton said there was a noticeable change after Norwalk survived Game 2.
“I think we started talking more and clicking more as a team — we really wanted and needed this win,” she said. “This was a good thing, because it teaches us that we can come back and that we play really well when we just focus and play as a team.”
For Norwalk, Smith was 39-of-44 with 14 kills and Claire Kelley was 34-of-38 with 13 kills. Olivia Ward served 17 points with three aces, with Elyse Balduff and Alaina Kelley each serving nine points.
Alaina Kelley was also 136-of-138 setting with 55 assists and had 15 digs. Ward added 21 digs and seven kills, while Anne Davidson had 36 digs and Balduff added 12.
Kalizewski talked about the early play of Bilton, who already has averaged close to 10 kills per match.
“Carly is coming alive for us,” she said. “She’s still a little inconsistent from day-to-day, but that is strictly experience and learning to play at that level all the time. She wants to be that hitter all the time, and that’s huge. We’re only going to see her get better every single day.”
Norwalk is off until next week when it travels to Toledo Central Catholic for a non-conference match.