In battle of 2020 sectional champs, Rochester uses 13-1 first-set run, to spark win over Triton
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Trailing 16-12 in the first set, the Rochester volleyball team went on a 13-1 to win the set, and they went on to beat the Lady Trojans 25-17, 25-14, 25-12 at the RHS gym Monday.
The match was a battle of 2020 sectional champions. Triton won Class 1A, Sectional 50 while Rochester won Class 2A, Sectional 35.
Emily Hughes led Rochester with 14 kills, and she added four aces and four blocks. Kylie Houston had a team-high five aces and was behind the service line for an opening 9-0 run in Game 3 that discouraged any Triton comeback hopes. Houston also had 17 digs and 11 serves received.
Kennedy Leap had five blocks.
Setter Alexa Kouskousakis had 22 assists to go with her 12 digs.
A Hughes kill, a Taren Yates kill error and a Hughes kill started the Game 1 run. Triton called timeout, but Rochester scored three more points to take an 18-16 lead. Tha run included two kill errors from Triton’s Morgan Feldman.
A Hughes dig error made it 18-17, but she got the sideout right back with a kill and then spent the rest of the set behind the service line. A Triton miscommunication made it 20-17, and Hughes followed with an ace. A Lexy Thomas tip, two more Hughes aces and a Hughes service winner closed out the set.
“We did get a slow start,” Rochester coach Erin Leap said. “That’s been our m.o. all season. And I don’t know why. It’s like we’ve got to take a couple swings wide, and then we’ve got to have a couple bad passes, and then, it’s like once we get a few under our belt, then we’re ready to go. … I hope that’s not what we do the entire season, but up to now, that’s pretty much how we’ve started every match.”
Kouskousakis said the team’s been working hard on passing in practice. Good passing means she can set her feet when she sets. And when she can set her feet, it allows her to diversify the direction of her sets. And when that happens, it’s harder to defend.
“I try to mix it up a lot, so that way, the block’s on the other side,” Kouskousakis said. “They don’t know where I’m going every time, so we can get a clean kill on it. … I’m having a lot of fun. This is a really good experience, and I just love my team.”
An 8-0 run with Rily Holloway serving in Game 2 helped Rochester jump out to a 12-3 lead. Freshman Audrey Bolinger teamed with Hughes for a block and later added a roll shot and a kill to complete the run.
Another four-point run with Kenzie Bradley serving that featured a Leap stuff block, a Bradley ace and Thomas winning a jump ball at the net got it to 21-8.
In Game 3, Leap devoured a Triton overpass to start, and after four straight Triton errors made it 5-0, Houston followed with four straight aces, handcuffing Triton with a variety of spinning serves.
“They’re all doing very well,” coach Leap said of the servers. “They’re just really attacking the ball from the end line, which is great. So that’s something was definitely a goal of mine was to have a more aggressive serving (team), so I think that’s coming along very well.”
Rochester def. Triton, 25-17, 25-14, 25-12
Lexy Thomas – 3 kills, 2 blocks, 3 digs, 2 serves received; Kennedy Leap – 7 kills, 5 blocks, 5 digs; Emily Hughes – 14 kills, 4 aces, 4 blocks, 1 dig, 2 serves received; Alexa Kouskousakis – 2 kills, 1 block, 12 digs, 22 assists; Audrey Bolinger – 3 kills, 2 blocks; Rily Holloway – 1 ace, 7 digs, 1 assist, 5 serves received; Kenzie Bradley – 2 aces, 9 digs, 1 assist, 7 serves received; Kylie Houston – 5 aces, 17 digs, 11 serves received; Emma Sells – 8 digs, 6 serves received