Wildcat volleyball gets two key league wins over visiting Jeff West
In the span of a week now, the Holton volleyball team has faced off against the top three teams in the Big Seven League standings (prior to Tuesday night).
With the Wildcats dropping three of four matches to Sabetha and Nemaha Central last week, that forced the team to discuss some hard truths leading into Tuesday’s home contests against Jeff West, which sat second in league play prior to the night.
“Especially with last week not going as we had hoped it to, we talked about how every win for the rest of the season is extremely important,” HHS coach Janelle Noel said.
The coach’s message was clearly received as Holton swept Jeff West in straight sets in the first match before closing out the Tigers in the second for a key league sweep.
In the first match, the Wildcats got through a tight first set before taking care of business in the second for a 25-21 and 25-16 victory.
“We didn’t start out as fast as we wanted to, but we got the job done. We were hitting, we were passing well, we were doing little things like that and we were making our serves,” Noel said.
Hayley Thompson came out strong on the attack for the Wildcats as well and finished the night with 19 kills. She also added 14 digs on the defensive end.
Jeff West would not go down without a fight, though, and took the first set of the final match before Holton came back to win it 24-26, 25-15 and 25-15.
Passing was much improved on Tuesday night, according to Noel, and the defense was strong as a unit once again, but it was the offensive rhythm and teamwork that allowed the Wildcats to bounce back in the final two sets.
“As we went into the second and the third sets, we minimized some of our hitting errors and we talked and we communicated a whole lot more. Controlling the pace of the game, I think that helped us in the end,” Noel said.
While Thompson had 13 of her 19 kills in the second set, Noel noted Lauren Leavendusky was just as crucial at the net for her defense. Leavendusky finished with eight blocks on the night, several more touches and forced the Tigers to change their offensive approach to try and get around her.
Mackenzie Moore (8 kills, 3 blocks) and Regan Baum (6 kills, 3 blocks) pitched in as well, while Megan Rhule had another strong all-around game (6 kills, 37 assists, 9 aces, 9 digs). Two players in particular, though, sparked the Wildcats’ momentum whenever they were on the court as Noel noted having Thompson in the front row and Courtney Boswell in the back continued to be a boon for the team.
“That’s the rotation where we were just really aggressive and pushing the ball and controlling the game. I think that, ultimately, helped us out in the end,” Noel said.
After those big wins, Noel said she hopes her team understands it has to be ready to go, ready to play its game each time out because it won’t get any easier in the tough Big Seven.
Holton (12-6), ranked fourth in Class 4A-DII, will have a short break from league play now as the team gets set for another tournament this weekend, this time in Wamego. Matches will start at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Sept. 22, 2015
Holton def. Jeff West: 25-21 and 25-16
Holton def. Jeff West: 24-26, 25- 15 and 25-15
Kills: Thompson 19, Moore 8, Rhule 6 and Baum 5.
Assists: Rhule 37.
Digs: Weilert 20, Thompson 14, Rhule 9, Riley 9.
Blocks: Leavendusky 8, Moore 3 and Baum 3.
Aces: Rhule 9.
Holton def. Jeff West: 25-12, 23-25 and 25-23
Holton def. Jeff West: 25-15 and 25-15
Holton def. Jeff West: 25-16 and 25-15
Holton def. Jeff West: 25-14, 21-25 and 25-18