Jackson Heights volleyball breaks out of funk with pair of wins at home
Since a big breakthrough at the Lyndon tournament more than two weeks ago, the Jackson Heights volleyball team has been stuck in a rut. To be fair, the Cobras have also faced three of the top four teams in the Northeast Kansas League in their matches following that tournament, but the coaches and players were well aware of the backwards trend and wanted to change it.
Some home-cooking seemed to be just the remedy the Cobras needed, as JHHS hosted McLouth and Oskaloosa on Tuesday night and picked up two big wins that ended the team’s little skid.
“Ever since the Lyndon tournament, we’ve kind of gone downhill and haven’t been doing as well. We’ve been talking in practice about getting our communication back together, since that was one of our goals that we talked about from the very beginning,” coach Kaylee Mick said. “I finally think I stressed it enough and they had seen it themselves and they came out ready to go.”
Heights may have had a little extra motivation on senior night in its last home matches of the season, but that didn’t stop things from starting off a little bumpy.
Mick went deep in her rotation early in the first match and while it took the Cobras some time to find their rhythm and mesh on the court, the team did so quickly after an early timeout and then cruised to a 25-15 and 25-8 victory over McLouth.
Everybody eventually contributed to the defensive effort, which was key against the Bulldogs, and Hannah Williams proved to be an imposing force at the net right away. Williams picked up some kills at the 10-foot line and also contributed some key blocks that helped fuel the Cobras on Tuesday night.
Against Oskaloosa, it was Bree Williams who got the Cobras going as she delivered a kill and an ace to start the match, forcing a quick timeout by the Bears. Jackson Heights never looked back.
“We were excited from start to end and didn’t let down. They just stayed on top of it and didn’t stoop down to the other team’s level,” Mick said.
Shortly after that, Morgan Bryan stepped back to serve and that stoked the fire even more. Bryan’s defense has been crucial for the team this season, according to Mick, and against Oskaloosa she had a service streak that allowed the Cobras to pull away. Bryan and Williams both had two aces in the match against the Bears.
Of course, Hannah Williams helped add to the team’s momentum with a huge block and kill during that stretch which saw JHHS take a 10-4 lead. She finished the match with six kills and two blocks in total.
The Bears answered with a pair of back-to-back aces from Tomi-Lyn Hickman, but errors sank Oskaloosa late and Marley Wareham shut the door on the first set with yet another ace for the Cobras.
Serving was a strength for the Cobras all night, as Mick noted Abby Williams also came up big for the team in that regard. While the team faltered late in the final set against Oskaloosa, Mick quickly reminded her team to keep putting on the pressure.
“There at the end they kind of started falling apart, but I called a timeout and that was one thing we talked about was missed serves,” Mick said. “We came out and finished it and didn’t give up on the serves. They kept fighting and giving it all they had and making it tough for them (Oskaloosa).”
Wareham and Logan Rethman, both part of that deeper rotation, came up with some big kills and digs as well to help Jackson Heights handle Oskaloosa in a 25-13 and 25-16 victory.
Katelin Strube and Bree Williams also pitched in four kills, while Willams had five digs to go with that. Taylor Abel led JHHS with 12 assists and also had four digs against the Bears.
Going into the night having already collected wins over both teams, Mick said her team handled itself well. While she was quick to note the progress teams will make over the course of the season, she said her team took advantage of what it could to pick up two more wins and she hopes the Cobras continue to do that moving forward.
“When they play games like this, it proves to them that they have the capability. They can do it. They can beat these teams and not make it so close. As long as they have communication and excitement together as a team, they’re able to do whatever they set their minds to,” Mick said.
After the excitement of a sweep on senior night, Mick is hoping her players have their minds set on keeping the momentum rolling as Heights (9-11) returns to action at the Valley Falls tournament on Saturday. Matches will start at 8 a.m.
Sept. 29, 2015
Jackson Heights def. McLouth: 25-15 and 25-8
Jackson Heights def. Oskaloosa: 25-13 and 25-16
Jackson Heights def. McLouth: 25-11 and 25-19
Jackson Heights def. Oskaloosa: 25-17 and 25-11
Sept. 28, 2015
ACCHS def. Jackson Heights: 25-12 and 25-20
Valley Falls def. Jackson Heights: 25-21 and 25-21
Sept. 24, 2015
Jackson Heights def. Horton: 25-17, 23-25 and 15-13
Centralia def. Jackson Heights: 25-9, 22-25 and 15-9
JCN def. Jackson Heights: 25-14 and 25-14