Rochester beats Whitko in 4, finishes TRC play 5-4
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Rochester volleyball coach Erin Leap said her team was not “clicking” during the first set of their match against Whitko at the RHS gym on Oct. 7.
They had to get it out of their system.
Thanks to senior net presence Emily Hughes’ 11 kills and 12 blocks, the Lady Zs shook off their slow start to beat Whitko 13-25, 25-15, 25-10, 25-15 in their Three Rivers Conference and home finales.
Rochester improved to 11-16 overall and finished TRC play 5-4.
They finished in a tie for fourth in the conference with Maconaquah. Elsewhere, Southwood beat Tippecanoe Valley in three games to finish a perfect 9-0 in the TRC, and Wabash beat Peru in three games to finish 8-1 and take second place. Valley went 7-2 and placed third.
Rochester had nine aces, including four from senior libero Kylie Houston and three from Hughes. Alexa Kouskousakis had six blocks, and Lexy Thomas added five in support of Hughes.
Kenzie Bradley had a team-high 12 digs in her final home match. Houston added nine digs and 16 serves received, and Kouskousakis had eight digs and 22 assists.
Rily Holloway contributed 13 serves received.
Sophomore Audra Brandenburg had eight kills to lead Whitko.
“We woke up and decided we want to play volleyball tonight,” Rochester coach Erin Leap said. “And we turned into a Zebra volleyball team again, and everything was fine.”
Coach Leap had bemoaned the team’s inability to “finish” games after a loss to Valley two days earlier. That included letting a 19-13 lead slip away and seeing Valley close out the match with a 12-2 run in Game 4.
She said they encountered a similar situation against Whitko and reversed their fortunes.
“We had a moment where the score was 19-12, and they had called a timeout, and I said, ‘Hey, this score is almost identical to the other night. I challenge you right now to go out on the floor and finish this game.’ … I feel like we didn’t let up and just let them keep chipping away. I felt like we still stayed in control of that game. It was a good turn, I think.”
Rochester played three matches at the Twin Lakes Invitational Saturday. They would then have a week to prepare for Class 2A, Sectional 35 at Bremen.
Rochester will play South Central (Union Mills) or Westville in the semifinals at 11 a.m. Oct. 16. If they win, they would play in the sectional final at 7 p.m.
Rochester def. Whitko, 13-25, 25-15, 25-10, 25-15
Kylie Coleman – 4 kills, 2 blocks, 3 digs, 1 serve received; Lexy Thomas – 5 kills, 5 blocks, 1 dig, 5 serves received; Kennedy Leap – 5 kills, 3 digs, 1 assist; Emily Hughes – 11 kills, 3 aces, 12 blocks, 3 digs; Alexa Kouskousakis – 3 kills, 1 ace, 6 blocks, 8 digs, 22 assists; Audrey Bolinger – 2 kills, 2 blocks, 1 dig; Rily Holloway – 1 ace, 4 digs, 1 assist, 13 serves received; Kylie Houston – 4 aces, 9 digs, 16 serves received; Kenzie Bradley – 12 digs, 7 serves received; Darah Strasser – 3 digs, 8 serves received