RHS moves back to one-setter system, beats Manchester
Lady Zs win in 4, even TRC record at 1-1
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
“I don’t know,” Rochester senior volleyball player Chloe Harris said of her crazy, split-second dig of a Manchester serve during Game 4 of her team’s match Tuesday. “I’ve got cat-like reflexes.”
Harris then burst into laughter. How can you explain anything in a volleyball season when things are changing so quickly and so often?
Harris could smile given the outcome. Perhaps stunned that RHS kept the ball off the floor, Manchester lost the point on a double-hit to fall behind 18-12.
RHS went on from there to win 25-22, 18-25, 25-17, 25-17 to improve to 3-4 overall and 1-1 in the Three Rivers Conference.
Emily Hughes and Kaitlin Rogers had 12 kills each for the Lady Zs. Kylie Houston had four aces. Lexy Thomas and Rogers had four blocks each. Dalanie Chipps had 25 digs. Emma Howdeshell had 28 serves received.
RHS trailed the visiting Lady Squires 18-5 in Game 2 when coach Erin Leap called timeout.
She urged her team to keep competing.
RHS went on a 12-3 run soon after Leap’s timeout talk. And while that might have only made that game look superficially better, play improved from there.
“I was really proud that we didn’t stop playing,” Leap said. “In that game, I told them to not give up and to not stop playing. … I just told them they had to keep playing. … But the difference definitely was passing. Our serve-receive got away from us for a second in Game 2, and it was just long enough for them to pull away to the point where we couldn’t catch them. But we turned it around, and our serve-receive was so much better tonight, and our digging was so much better tonight.”
Clinging to a 17-16 lead in Game 3, they closed that game out on an 8-1 run.
And after Manchester hung within 20-17 in Game 4, the Lady Zs closed the match with a 5-0 run that included a Lexy Thomas kill and a two-handed Thomas tip in the deep right corner.
RHS’ lineup and style of play was different from its previous home match against Southwood five days earlier.
They moved back to a one-setter system from a two-setter look. Molly Conley is now the lone setter, and Chloe Harris plays more of a defensive role.
Leap and her coaching staff decided to re-work the lineup on the bus ride to the Harrison Invitational in West Lafayette.
“Chloe is an amazing defensive player,” Leap said. “We just decided – coaches and Chloe together – that she wants to focus on that defense and not that next play. I’ve always loved Chloe’s defense. She’s just scrappy. It’s actually working out very well because she is getting a lot of balls up.”
Leap also praised Conley, who had 38 assists. She said the one-setter system forces Conley to stay more mentally focused. She said a one-setter system will also be more physically draining since it will force her to run around more to set.
“On the way to Harrison, (assistant coach) Sarah (Daulton) and I sat down on the bus and completely made a new lineup,” Leap said. “That would have been the third lineup of the year, and that was our third game. I told the girls, ‘Just be coachable. Be flexible. We’re going to try this. It looks great on paper. We’re going to see if it works.’ We did it all day. I felt like they got more and more comfortable throughout the day. We played some really good teams. Tonight they brought it on the court, and I felt like it looked really good.”
Harris, Kylie Houston, Emma Howdeshell and libero Dalanie Chipps play mostly in the back.
“I feel like we really turned the corner with the way our team has been playing,” Harris said. “I think we really worked as a team. And our defense was bangin’ this game. … This time, we won because of our actions and the way we played.”
Thomas, Kaitlin Rogers, Emily Hughes, Carlee Blackburn and Hannah Houston are the main hitters. Having said that, the Lady Zs weren’t relying on crushing the ball as much as they relied on well-placed tips.
“I would say we didn’t have great connections,” Leap said. “We had better connections with Kaitlin tonight than we did with Hannah. I don’t know why that was. Hannah had one big swing that everybody, I think, probably remembers that was here. I was waiting for that all night, but it wasn’t happening between those two (Conley and Hannah Houston) tonight. I don’t really know why, but we’re going to try to figure it out tomorrow (in practice).”
RHS travels to Northfield to take on the undefeated Lady Norse (12-0) Thursday.
“Our record’s not great right now,” Leap said. “We’re not in a whole really good position for TRC. My goal is just to play every game and get better at the things that are going to help us at the end of the year at tournament time.”
RHS def. Manchester, 25-22, 18-25, 25-17, 25-17
Lexy Thomas - 4 kills, 4 blocks, 7 serves received; Emily Hughes - 12 kills, 3 digs; Kaitlin Rogers - 12 kills, 4 blocks, 4 digs; Emma Howdeshell - 1 kill, 9 digs, 28 serves received; Carlee Blackburn - 4 kills, 1 ace, 4 digs, 1 serve received; Hannah Houston - 6 kills, 2 blocks, 2 digs; Dalanie Chipps - 1 ace, 25 digs, 10 serves received; Chloe Harris - 3 aces, 12 digs, 1 assist, 13 serves received; Kylie Houston - 4 aces, 13 digs, 10 serves received; Molly Conley - 1 ace, 1 block, 5 digs, 38 assists