JHHS volleyball battles back to split home opener
Competing on its home court for the first time this season, JHHS volleyball coach Kaylee Mick said her team might have been a little anxious leading up to its non-league matches against Bishop Seabury and Onaga on Thursday night.
That may have caused some issues in the first match, a loss to Bishop Seabury, but the Cobras quickly rebounded to close out the evening with a win over the Buffalos of Onaga.
“We struggled at first. You know, I think we were really nervous for our first home game, so we struggled with Seabury. They were a good team,” Mick said. “When we came out with Onaga, we had figured out what those mistakes were against Seabury and came out ready to go, stayed on top of them and took care of business.”
Against the Seahawks of Seabury, Heights’ troubles were very simple as the team wasn’t quite crisp enough to walk away with a win, giving up 12 free balls in the two sets.
“Our passes just weren’t where they needed to be and we had some missed serves,” Mick said.
Even so, Heights still had its chances. While the team fell behind early, it managed a mid-set comeback. The Cobras couldn’t push all the way through, though, and some timely mistakes cost them in the loss (16-25 and 17-25) to Seabury.
For all that went wrong in the team’s first match, the second match against Onaga was the polar opposite as the Cobras came out and executed from the start on the way to a victory (25-20 and 25-16) that earned the team a split on the night.
Right away, Taylor Abel and Katelin Strube set the tone for Jackson Heights, collaborating on a few successful attacks that gave the team a lead it would not relinquish.
Mentally, the Cobras seemed to have the edge. Each team had its fair share of mistakes, but Onaga seemed to get deflated after each one while Jackson Heights just moved on to the next point.
“Last year, they really struggled with that. They would do well one game and then not the next,” Mick said. “After our loss to Seabury, we went in the locker room and talked about it and that was what we were going to make sure we did well, staying positive and hungry and not letting them make it close.”
After some long rallies late, the Cobras pushed their advantage to 22-17, but Mick said her players felt getting Abby Williams amped up would be the key to putting the first set away. Shortly after the team took that lead, Onaga had a miraculous rally to keep a ball alive only to have Williams squash it with a big block at the net that fired up both her and her teammates.
Williams had a late kill as well and the duo of Strube and Abel struck again to end the first set in the Cobra’s favor, 25-20.
Jackson Heights might not have led the whole way in the following set, but after stumbling early, the team quickly found its groove to push past the Buffalos.
Abby Williams played well again, as did sister Hannah Williams, as the two were like vultures up front just waiting to pounce on any free ball Onaga sent over the net. The two combined for 10 kills and five blocks in the second match of the night.
Those two helped the Cobras hang around before a couple of Onaga errors opened the door for Heights to take charge of the set and it didn’t look back. It wasn’t just the Williams sisters contributing, either, as Strube and Abel were efficient all night, while Maggie Rostetter came up with some big plays on defense and Bree Williams added some depth to the Cobras’ attack.
All of the players who took the court for JHHS contributed something in the match and that seemed to take its toll on the Buffalos late. Strube assisted on one of Bree Williams’ kills towards the end and that seemed to tip the scales in the Cobras’ favor for good as it was part of a six-point run that led to the team’s largest lead, 22-13, of the night before taking the final set 25-16.
“That’s what happens when we have so many girls that we can keep them fresh and switch them in and out, where everybody is good enough to play,” Mick said.
Jackson Heights still has some kinks to work out, as evidenced by the Seabury match, and will readdress those issues in practice, but Mick said it was good to see her players stay mentally strong and end the night on a positive note.
The Cobras (3-1) will now get ready for a big challenge in league play as the team travels to Valley Falls to face the Dragons and the Rams of Pleasant Ridge in a pair of matches starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
Sept. 3, 2015
Jackson Heights def. Onaga: 25-20 and 25-16
Bishop Seabury def. Jackson Heights: 25-16 and 25-17
Jackson Heights def. Bishop Seabury: 25-6 and 25-10
Jackson Heights def. Bishop Seabury: 26-24 and 25-17