Lady Zs beat Wabash in 4, improve to 5-2 in TRC
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Facing an imposing middle hitter, the Rochester volleyball team relied on their own big hitters to beat visiting Wabash at the RHS gym Tuesday.
RHS won 25-22, 23-25, 25-19, 25-21 to improve to 8-6 overall and 5-2 in the Three Rivers Conference.
Wabash fell to 18-6, 4-3.
Kaitlin Rogers had 21 kills, and Hannah Houston had 11 kills and seven blocks. Kylie Houston, Hannah’s younger sister, had three aces and 16 serves received. Dalanie Chipps had 22 digs and 19 serves received. Molly Conley had 17 digs and 36 assists. Chloe Harris had 12 digs and 18 serves received.
RHS played without Lexy Thomas, who missed the match with an injury. Coach Erin Leap wouldn’t specify Thomas’ injury but said that she would be out for matches against Winamac Thursday and Pioneer Saturday.
Sophomore Alexa Kouskousakis filled in for Thomas.
“Very big,” Rogers said afterwards of the win. “It brought our confidence up a little more, and with this lineup, we’re missing Lexy, but with Kous, she did a really job of playing tonight, so that was very big for us.”
RHS trailed 19-17 in Game 4 when Leap called timeout. RHS closed the match with an 8-2 run.
Hannah Houston had a kill, Rogers had a kill, Kylie Houston had an ace, and Mariah Wyatt went long with an attack for Wabash.
Wabash coach Katie Cromer called timeout.
Kylie Houston had an ace and then a service error. RHS led 22-20. A Rogers roll shot made it 23-20. A misfire from RHS’ Carlee Blackburn made it 23-21, but Rogers ended it with two more kills to end the match.
Though Maconaquah is the defending TRC champion, RHS and Wabash were the two TRC teams to win their sectional from last year.
“It was a big win for us because we’re trying to crawl back and try to get a little higher in the TRC,” Leap said. “Game 2, I don’t think we necessarily played bad. We just didn’t play well at crucial points of the game, but they rallied and came back, and I was just happy we did it in four.”
Game 4 started with 14 sideouts before a Wyatt back row kill error gave RHS their first lead of the game at 8-7. They stretched the lead to 12-8, but a 5-0 Wabash run later in the game put them ahead by two.
Wyatt was first-team all-TRC in 2019 and honorable mention all-TRC in 2018. She’s a middle hitter with quick hops that made her an imposing blocking presence.
“First we had to get our passes down, and I think everyone did amazing with the chances we got with free balls and serve received, and that just helped me and Molly a lot to connect and get around that block. But when we’re trapped on the net, it was very difficult. Wyatt is a very good blocker. She moves right with you. She’s huge. She’s a very good blocker, but our defense was a key role in that.”
Said Leap of trying to contain Wyatt: “We tried to keep her in the back row as much as we could, so we tried to score as many points as we could when she was not in the front row. Our middles did a good of trying to get touches on everything she was hitting. It didn’t always work, but I feel like we shut down her being able to hit. She pushed the ball a lot more than I feel like she had really strong-velocity hits.”
RHS was clinging to a 20-18 lead in Game 3 before RHS closed the game with a 5-1 run. Wabash botched a tip, and Rogers had a kill to make it 22-18. Rogers’ tip went into the net to make it 22-19, but Emily Hughes hit the outside corner for a side out, and a Jade Stumbo kill error and a Chipps ace gave RHS a 2-1 lead.
The teams split the first two games. A combined stuff block from Conley and Hannah Houston closed out Game 1. RHS led 23-22 in Game 2, but two RHS errors and a Stumbo stuff block tied the match.
When Rogers wasn’t making big plays in the front row, it was often Hannah Houston.
“I think Hannah’s way more confident this year than she ever has been,” Leap said. “I mean, she’s not afraid to swing. She’s got a lot of confidence right now.”
No Career Academy in sectional
The IHSAA draw is set for 8 p.m. Sunday. According to the IHSAA website, there are only five teams in Class 2A, Sectional 35. South Bend Career Academy, who participated in last year’s sectional, is not listed as having a team this year.
RHS DEF. WABASH, 25-22, 23-25, 25-19, 25-21
Emily Hughes - 7 kills, 1 block, 7 digs; Kaitlin Rogers - 21 kills, 2 blocks, 6 digs; Molly Conley - 2 kills, 3 blocks, 17 digs, 36 assists; Carlee Blackburn - 3 kills, 6 digs, 2 aces, 1 serve received; Hannah Houston - 11 kills, 7 blocks, 4 digs; Dalanie Chipps - 2 aces, 22 digs, 19 serves received; Kylie Houston - 3 aces, 6 digs, 16 serves received; Molly Conley - 1 ace; Alexa Kouskousakis - 2 blocks, 1 assist, 5 serves received; Chloe Harris - 12 digs, 1 assist, 18 serves received; Emma Howdeshell - 7 digs, 13 serves received