Whittell volleyballers driver over Incline
If the Whittell High volleyball team was a six-cylinder sports car, the only thing missing in the home opener Tuesday night was a splash of gear oil.
The Warriors still accelerated through a few yellow lights to pass Incline, 15-7, 8-15, 15-6, 15-7. And the sparse crowd was treated to glimpses of Whittell’s high-speed potential.
“(Whittell) knows how to pound the ball. They’ve got some good hitters. We tried to center-out the middle blocker and had some good ones. But they just keep coming after you,” said Incline coach Artis Brandt, whose team played well after losing to the Warriors 11-3, 11-1 in a preseason tournament.
Whittell overcame its tendency to “play down” to the level of the competition, bouncing back from a 5-1 deficit to take game one. Passing combinations began to click while senior Becca Fore and junior Karin Kaleta began to rocket kills with fierce regularity.
“When we play a team we think we can beat, we start off at their level and build ourselves up,” Fore said. “(But once we get going) everybody has worked so hard on their hitting that the other team just never knows where it’s going to go. And this year we’ve worked on talking and communicating better.”
The Warriors fell behind in the second frame as Incline’s game plan of attacking Whittell’s weaknesses paid off with a win. But the home team came roaring back on the inspired play of Aurora Terry, who continually tracked down shots with controlled passes, allowing setter Sarah Sufka to comfortably dish a game-high 46 assists.
“I don’t get nervous setting to anyone. They can all hit the ball. Even if they don’t get a set for a while, they’re ready when they get one,” Sufka said.
Whittell (2-1 league) settled into cruising gear with clean passes, precise sets and pounding kills to easily handle the Highlanders (0-3) down the stretch. Kaleta was especially impressive, unloading on a few floor-denting crushes that left the Incline players frozen stiff. She finished with 12 kills, while Fore tallied 24 with three blocks. Erin Zaskoda added a not-so-quiet two blocks.
“We have a very diverse attack because we can hit you from many different angles. Early in the year, we’re trying to find how to gel together, use it and get everybody on the same page,” said Whittell coach Dan McLaughlin. “(Incline) had an excellent game plan and attacked us knowing we’re a little slow in transition. They made us play very hard to beat them and we eventually wore them out.”
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