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  • Val T.

Leap: Balancing coaching, motherhood ‘hardest part’ of Lady Z sectional final loss to Wabash


Sports Editor, RTC


Wabash def. Rochester, 25-15, 25-20, 25-21 (final): Rochester volleyball coach Erin Leap was asked about her coaching future after her team’s Class 2A, Sectional 36 final match against Wabash at the RHS gym Saturday night, but she said she had not thought about the future that much.

She said she was just hoping to make it through the day.

An emotional day for the Lady Zs and their five seniors ended with a 25-15, 25-20, 25-21 loss to Wabash.

Rochester, who beat Winamac in three sets earlier in the day in the semifinals, finished 14-19. Wabash, who beat No. 5 Pioneer in four sets in their semifinal match, improved to 26-6.

They will return to Rochester at 10:30 a.m. this Saturday to play South Central (Union Mills) in a regional semifinal. Andrean will play Churubusco in the other semifinal at noon, and the winners return at 6 p.m. for the regional final.

Kennedy Leap, the coach’s daughter, tied for team-high honors with fellow senior Alexa Kouskousakis with four kills. Rochester had four aces with a senior contributing one each – Rily Holloway, Kylie Coleman, Leap and Kouskousakis.

Kouskousakis and Mia Howdeshell had 15 digs each, and Rily Holloway had 12. Kouskousakis also had nine assists while Lillee Lett had six. Holloway had 18 serves received and Howdeshell had 11.

Coach Leap had coached Kennedy Leap, Kouskousakis and Coleman since they were in elementary school, had coached Kylee Freant since she was a sixth-grader and had coached Holloway since she transferred to Rochester from Tippecanoe Valley as an 11th-grader.

“That was the hardest part,” coach Leap said of balancing being a coach with being a mom. “That’s always been the hardest part. It’s definitely been a journey that I was blessed to be able to do. … I just had to get through today, especially as a mom. I’ve got to figure out what our future looks like without K.J. (Kennedy) around.”

Rochester had lost in four sets to Wabash in their regular season meeting at home on Sept. 27. Wabash’s Faryn Morris played in that match but did not play in the front row and had no kills, even though she leads Wabash’s team in kills.

In the rematch, Morris banged away for 20 kills, often going down the line from the left side. Fellow senior Jade Stumbo added 11 kills, and freshman Bryleigh Boggs had nine. Setter Emma Tracy had 42 assists, and libero Ashlynn Cruz had 22 digs, 14 serves received and three aces.

It was Morris who menaced however.

“We were trying to block her crosscourt to take that away because that seemed to be primarily where she was going, but we knew that was going to leave our line way open and vulnerable,” coach Leap said. “She got us a couple times there, and then Rily started picking her up there, and we were like, ‘You’ve got to go extreme line,’ and she did. She moved to where we told her to go, and she got a couple digs. Faryn’s an awesome player.”

Boggs also impressed, according to coach Leap. She had 20 digs and 14 serves received to go with her hitting, and her ability to move laterally in the back row shrunk the space on the floor where the Lady Zs could hit.

“That was the thing,” coach Leap said of Boggs’ defense. “We were like, ‘Is line open?’ ‘Well, it is, but she’s moving into that zone.’ Then they’d try to hit ‘six’ zone, and then she would be there. She literally was sideline to sideline. She was everywhere. Kudos to them. They have a great defensive team.”

Rochester fell behind 15-5 in Game 1. They got a run of three straight points later in the game on a net violation from Wabash’s Kierra Wilson, an Audrey Bolinger stuff block and a Wilson kill error long to get within 22-15, but Wabash got the three points right back on a Morris tip, a Lett kill error and a clean ace from Cruz.

Rochester fell behind 16-7 in game 2 but went on a 9-2 run that included three kills from Kouskousakis. Wabash coach Katie Cromer called timeout at 17-13, but two Wilson kill errors and a Jillian Sailors kill error made it 18-16.

But four more Morris kills, a Boggs tip and a Tracy ace off the net helped Wabash survive the rally and take a 2-0 lead.

Rochester jumped out to a 5-0 lead in Game 3 with Coleman serving and forced Cromer to take an early timeout.

Morris took over again, recording 10 more kills. That included three straight kills as part of a 5-0 run as Wabash jumped ahead 18-15. The lead would reach 23-17, but a Kouskousakis kill and a Wilson kill error cut the lead to four. A Kouskousakis kill error got it to match point, but a Cruz service error and a Stumbo kill error that went long on a point that included a free ball from Darah Strasser on three from the baseline staved off the first two match points.

Morris then ended it on a two-handed tip.

“I think they wanted to have high energy,” coach Leap said. “I’m just not sure it was there. I think they were nervous. I think that they were excited. I think that our energy was better than the first time we played them. I think we played well for how good they were. They were a really tough team. I think we dug balls that were crazy hard, and we got some blocks, and we got some swings. I feel like we played maybe not as well as we could’ve, but we definitely did not just roll over and die for sure.”

Wabash def. Rochester, 25-15, 25-20, 25-21

Rochester stats

Kylie Coleman – 1 kill, 1 ace, 1 block, 3 digs, 1 serve received; Kennedy Leap – 4 kills, 1 ace, 1 block; Kylee Freant – 2 kills, 1 block, 8 digs, 8 serves received; Alexa Kouskousakis – 4 kills, 1 ace, 1 block, 15 digs, 9 assists, 6 serves received; Lillee Lett – 2 kills, 9 digs, 6 assists, 6 serves received; Audrey Bolinger – 2 kills, 1 blocks, 5 digs; Rily Holloway – 1 ace, 12 digs, 18 serves received; Darah Strasser – 7 digs, 7 serves received; Mia Howdeshell – 15 digs, 11 serves received

Rochester def. Winamac, 25-23, 25-5, 25-16 (Saturday): Kennedy Leap had nine kills, and Alexa Kouskousakis and Lillee Lett had four kills and 12 digs each for Rochester in a 25-23, 25-5, 25-16 win over Winamac in a Class 2A, Sectional 36 semifinal at Rochester Saturday afternoon.

Rochester improved to 14-18 and earned a spot in the sectional final against Wabash. Wabash beat Pioneer 25-21, 22-25, 25-17, 25-16 in the other semifinal.

Winamac finished 6-24.

Kouskousakis also had a team-high 10 assists. Kylie Coleman and Kylee Freant each had three of Rochester’s nine aces.

Audrey Bolinger had four kills, and Leap had three.

Lett also contributed three assists, and Haley Durkes had two.

Rily Holloway had seven digs and 15 serves received. Mia Howdeshell had seven serves received.

Game 1 was tied 23-23 when a service error from Piper Link gave Rochester a set point. A Leap serve that elicited a pass that was too tight to the net for the setter closed the game out.

Rochester scored 20 consecutive points – the last 16 points of Game 2 and the first four points of Game 3 – at one point. Freant served the last run in Game 2.

Rochester beat Winamac for the second time in 16 days. They also beat them in three sets in their regular season meeting at the RHS gym on Sept. 29.

Winamac has not won a sectional title since 2014.

Rochester def. Winamac, 25-23, 25-5, 25-16

Rochester stats

Kylie Coleman – 1 kill, 3 aces, 3 digs, 1 serve received; Kennedy Leap – 9 kills, 1 ace, 3 blocks, 5 digs; Alexa Kouskousakis – 4 kills, 12 digs, 10 assists, 1 serve received; Lillee Lett – 4 kills, 1 ace, 12 digs, 3 assists, 2 serves received; Audrey Bolinger – 3 kills, 4 blocks, 3 digs; Rily Holloway – 1 ace, 7 digs, 15 serves received; Kylee Freant – 3 aces, 4 digs, 3 serves received; Rylee Clevenger – 1 dig; Haley Durkes – 1 dig, 2 assists; Darah Strasser – 4 digs, 1 serve received; Mia Howdeshell – 3 digs, 7 serves received

Rochester Volleyball Seniors: Top Left Rily Holoway Top Middle Kylie Coleman Top Right Kylee Freant Bottom Left Kennedy Leap Bottom Right Alexa Kouskousakis

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