|Wed, Sep 17, 2014 03:36 PM
|Issue of September 10, 2014
September 03, 2014 | 11:35 AM
After getting off to a rocky start, the North Harrison Lady Cats volleyball team completely dismantled visiting Borden in a three-game sweep last Tuesday. It took a 1-1/2 games before North Harrison finally found its rhythm to handily put away the Lady Braves.
"I told them that we needed to come in and play at our level and not play at the level of the team that we're playing against, that no balls needed to hit the floor and they needed to make the most aggressive play they could on every single ball," North Harrison coach Caitlyn Janes said.
The Lady Cats came out sluggish in game one, and Borden took advantage with an early lead. North Harrison came back in front following a pair of service aces by Kendra Baumgarten, but the Lady Braves continued to match points to keep the game tied at 8.
North Harrison junior Carlie Burson reaches to block a kill attempt by Borden's Haley Nestor (22) in the third game of the Lady Cats' sweep. Photo by Wade Bell
Borden misfired on serve, then Lady Cat junior Carlie Burson delivered three straight aces, pushing North Harrison's lead to four. The two teams traded points on the next sideouts before Brittany Rudolph got swings in for three kills in a row and a 17-9 North Harrison advantage. Borden made a 4-0 run late in the game, but the Lady Braves had too big of hole to climb out of. North Harrison won 25-17.
"It was very frustrating," Janes said. "I don't think they expected it. They saw the JV game, and I think it took them off of their toes a little bit. It took them a minute to get their heads back in the game. We've worked the first three weeks of playing, just pushing every single point, and we're going to have to continue to work on that all season probably."
Game two began like game one, only Borden's confidence rose with the Lady Braves taking a 10-8 lead after North Harrison hit out of bounds. Borden hit out of bounds on the next play, then the Lady Cats attacked the net with three straight kills to lead 12-10. At that point, the Lady Cats pulled away and earned a 25-19 win.
"I think we started getting the ball to the right people, the people that were hot tonight," Janes said. "Usually all of our hitters are on, and a couple were a little off tonight. So, we started putting it into the hands we needed to go to to win the game."
Borden fought to play with the Lady Cats in the early points of game three. North Harrison then laid down the hammer, scoring the next 10 points for a 13-3 lead.
Borden got one of those back when the Lady Cats hit out of bounds. Burson then had three straight kills, and Jill Book punched in a kill and four straight service aces for a 21-4 advantage. That broke Borden's back, and North Harrison went on to win 25-5.
"It changed our whole game," Janes said. "When we get people doing their job and what they're supposed to do, I didn't see too many balls hit the floor, and they went after every single ball. Carlie had some bigger hits. She wasn't getting the passes to swing at too many balls earlier in the game, so that helped. Jill's placement was just spot on."
Burson led the Lady Cats (4-3) with 11 kills, 10 digs and five service aces. Brittany Rudolph followed up with seven kills, and freshman Taylor Rennirt had five kills. Kendra Baumgarten served up five aces, and Ally Robbeloth set up 23 assists. Jill Book was big on both offense and defense with four kills, four service aces and 20 digs on defense.
"I expect her to be greedy in the back row," Janes said of Book. "I want her to have as many balls as she can."
All of Book's kills came from the back row. Janes said it's a strategy her team works on to keep their opponents off balance.
"That's something I really want to push," she said. "I want every ball to get aggressive. I'd rather we swing out of the back than push it or free ball it over because I want us to constantly be on the offensive than the defensive all the time."
Janes said her two power hitters, Burson and Rudolph, can be a problem for any match-up they meet at the net if their game is on.
"Carlie has definitely more experience, but Brittany is just an athlete," Janes said. "She's just a very strong athlete and she has a great attitude, and she'll do whatever I ask her. She's really come around in the last year or so, especially with her hitting and her blocking both."
"The third game I saw what I wanted to see," Janes said. "I don't know if I'll ever see what I want to see because I want to see perfect volleyball. But I think, as long as we work hard and we play together, we're getting there. If we're working on four cylinders all the time and we're playing as hard as we can, I think we will be a tough team. We have to be that way all the time, to play that way constantly and not let up."