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Rochester emphasizes defense in volleyball scrimmage vs. Northwestern


Sports Editor, RTC

Ella Hake

Rochester first-year volleyball coach Laneia Strasser has emphasized defensive posture since the start of practice.

That did not change in a scrimmage against visiting Northwestern at the RHS gym Thursday.

Somebody needs to be in the area of the court that Strasser calls “no man’s land.” And the passing has to be better.

But there was also a glimpse of the present and the future. Five juniors – Audrey Bolinger, Darah Strasser, Mia Howdeshell, Lillee Lett and Rylee Clevenger – joined lone senior Keyton Doran in the starting lineup.

Sophomore middle hitter Ella Hake, freshman outside hitter Sophia Kouskousakis and freshman setter Aubrey Wilson came off the bench. Rochester operated a one-setter system with Howdeshell and Wilson sharing time at setter.

Strasser described the hitting efficiency and accuracy as “50-50,” but she also said it was not one of her biggest concerns. She thinks the timing and accuracy will come in time.

The passing, though, is a more urgent matter. If the pass is not accurate, then Howdeshell and Wilson have to work too hard to get the ball to the hitters.

“We need to improve on our passes,” coach Strasser said. “Our setter was running all over the court to make contact … so that’s definitely something we need to work on.”

Coach Strasser also said the team needs to cover the middle of the court better defensively. She calls that part of the court “no man’s land,” and it’s an area that can be vulnerable to tips if a defense is not on its toes.

“And we’ve practiced that middle hole a bunch,” coach Strasser said. “Somebody’s got to get to it. So we definitely have plans to work on that again. … Then watching it sometimes helps more than me just saying constantly, ‘The middle’s wide open. We’ve got to be quicker to get to it.’ We’ve been recording, obviously, stuff on Hudl, so they’re all pretty excited about that to watch it, and they do seem to improve better when they see it.”

Coach Strasser said freshman defensive specialist Logyn Honkomp, freshman outside hitter MaKenna McKee and sophomore middle hitter Avarie Montel are all players who did not play in the scrimmage but who she said she would like to work into the lineup.

“We have a very talented freshman class,” coach Strasser said. “I have a lot of really well-rounded kids that can play all the way around as well.”

Rochester will open the season with a home match against Plymouth Saturday. The JV match will start at 11 a.m., and the varsity match will follow.

It will also be the coaching debut for Plymouth’s Shauna Fagan, a 2013 Rochester grad.

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