West Branch sweeps Mo Valley|
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
AMESVILLE - When you've attained the accolades the West Branch volleyball team has over the last decade, sometimes a sweep doesn't get the same level of satisfaction it would if they didn't play well by their lofty standards.
Lady Warriors head coach Terry Trude didn't feel a sense of achievement after his team's three-set win against Moshannon Valley on Tuesday night at the Lamont Close Gymnasium in Amesville.
West Branch cruised to a 25-9 win in the opening set, but the pesky Damsels battled Trude's squad until the final point was scored in the third set.
The Lady Warriors won the final two sets 25-15 and 25-20 to move to 16-6 overall and 8-1 in the Inter-County Conference.
"They were relentless at some level, and we weren't putting balls away," said Trude. "We just weren't real consistent with our shot selection. We were hitting the same spots, so we need to be a little more creative offensively.
"Mo Valley has improved, and their coach has done a good job with them. They were competitive and they did a good job tonight."
While Trude and Co. may have been unsatisfied, the now 4-7 Damsels looked at the match as something to build on.
Mo Valley hasn't pushed West Branch past three sets in recent meetings, so to play with the Lady Warriors to that extent was something for Cydnee Sankey's squad to build on.
"We gave them a pep talk about getting the fact that we're playing West Branch out of their heads," Sankey said. "They were pretty pumped up to play, but we just don't have the reflexes to play with West Branch (because) they're smart.
"They outsmarted us the first time they played, but we picked it up better than when we played them last, and I'm happy with that."
The Lady Warriors came out and took care of business in Game 1 behind the serving of Gabby Redmond and the play at the net of Kaylin English.
Redmond got West Branch started off on the right foot with four of her team-high 15 service points, while English recorded a pair of kills to get their team off to a 4-0 lead.
The Lady Warriors' serving was a thorn in the Damsels' side all night long, as West Branch recorded 16 aces and eight service runs of four or more points.
"Defensively, we're coming along," said Sankey. "It's a matter of getting them to understand there are six players on the court and that we have to cover the whole court. They have to learn to move their feet."
English had four of her team-high eight kills in the opening game, while Redmond added three of her six.
"Gabby is having some big games for us lately," Trude said. "She's serving the ball well. She's a 97 percent server and she's mixing her shots well. She's been one of our key leaders this year at the net and serving.
"Kaylin is our go-to player in the middle. She's smart and she'll read the defense, so she's been big for us all year. She's definitely making some big plays for us."
After cruising to the opening-set win, West Branch's serving troubles showed early and often in the second.
The Lady Warriors got a kill from English to open the scoring, but missed three serves in the early going and trailed 7-4 before the Damsels missed a serve of their own.
West Branch struggled to get into any offensive rhythm until Katie Trude toed the serving line with her team leading 17-13.
Trude put the set away with four service points and Redmond closed it out with an ace.
"In the first set we only had one service error," said Trude. "In the second set, they only scored 15 points and we gave them a lot of their points. We work on that a lot at practice, so it kind of surprises me that we aren't getting better with our serves."
Both squads missed six serves in the second set.
"We have harped on serving over and over again," Sankey said. "We counted their missed serves at practice and made them run for the ones they missed. They have to understand that they're not giving themselves the benefit of the doubt when they miss a serve.
"It's kind of like softball. When a pitcher walks someone, it doesn't give your defense anything."
West Branch took early control of the third set and appeared headed toward a win similar to Game 1, but a service run from Mo Valley's Brooklynn Stephenson turned a 22-13 deficit into a 2-point match.
Trude called a pair of timeouts during Stephenson's run, but his team couldn't force Stephenson off the line until a Damsels block attempt sailed out of bounds.
Breanna Hayward's kill on the next serve wrapped up the win for West Branch.
"She doesn't get a lot of light but she does a nice job for me," said Sankey of Stephenson. "She always comes out ready to play. The girls don't understand that they have to help her out - they have to have a nice pass for her to have a nice set.
"It's a domino effect, and the girls aren't putting that together yet."
Both teams return to action on Thursday on their home court. The Lady Warriors will entertain another rival in Glendale, while the Damsels host ICC foe Claysburg-Kimmel.
"We want to get better," Trude said. "We know Mo Valley is more competitive, but if we want to play in the top four in District 6 we have to play better than we did tonight. The girls know that. We have to get better, and we'll just take it one game at a time."