Rochester sweeps North Miami for 4th straight win
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
DENVER –- In the third set of their match with host North Miami Thursday, Rochester volleyball player Kylie Coleman received a serve and mishit to the point that it floated
over the net on one and somehow landed on North Miami’s side of the court.
The point was somewhat symbolic. Things have gone so well for Rochester over the last week that even their passes are turning into kills.
Rochester went on to beat the Lady Warriors 25-14, 25-14, 25-14 for their fourth straight win. The Lady Zs, who started 0-2 in Three Rivers Conference play, are now 7-11 overall and 4-2 in the TRC.
Not only has Rochester won four straight matches, but they won them all in straight sets, and their opponent scored as many as 20 points in only one of the 12 sets.
North Miami fell to 4-19, 1-6. Their lone conference win came against Manchester, who was the last team to beat Rochester.
Rochester pulled away in each set. They led 15-14 in the first set before scoring the last 10 points. They led 18-14 in the second set before scoring the last seven points. They led 18-12 in the third set before closing out the match on a 7-2 run.
In the first set, Kennedy Leap went down the right sideline for the first kill. Then came an Emily Hughes stuff block, a Rily Holloway ace and a Hughes kill before a North Miami timeout. Two more Hughes kills and a Coleman kill got it 24-14 before North Miami’s Kaiden Hanley banged a one-legged kill into the net at set point.
Hughes feasted on 15 kills, mixing in some well-placed tips while pummeling any North Miami overpasses in her vicinity. Kennedy Leap had nine kills, and Coleman’s happy accident was one of her seven kills. Coleman also had a team-high three aces, including one on match point.
Thomas, Leap and Hughes had one block each.
Rochester had eight aces, and coach Leap thought their serving pushed North Miami away from the net.
“They just put a lot of pressure serving deep, and so that put them out of system,” coach Leap said. “So we got a lot of free balls out of it. I don’t know that we got a lot of aces tonight, but I feel like we got a lot of free balls out of our serves tonight.”
Kylie Houston had 13 digs and 13 serves received. Setter Alexa Kouskousakis had 12 digs and a team-high 27 assists.
Though she is just a junior, she has emerged as a team leader, according to Houston.
“Communication and skills and at practice every day, she just delivers,” Houston said of Kouskousakis. “She has the most positive attitude. She’s just a sweetheart, and I adore her.”
A Hughes tip, a Hughes kill, a Coleman deep tip into the back left corner and another Hughes kill were part of the run that closed out the second set.
“It’s very big right now,” Rochester coach Erin Leap said of her team’s confidence level. “We’ve just made such a turn, and everybody’s attitudes are just so in a really good place right now. And they’re all being really good teammates. And it just makes such a big difference.”
Houston said they have been working on out-of-system plays and trying to get an attack on each shot. She believes the number of free balls going the other direction have gone down. More important was a meeting in the school parking lot between the four seniors after the team bus returned home from the loss to Manchester on Sept. 14.
“I think our energy, as long as we keep this up, it’s going to carry us throughout the entire season,” Houston said. “We have a bond like no other. And we all rely on each other a lot. And I think that’s going to carry us through.”
Rochester/TRC volleyball notes
Tippecanoe Valley beat Northfield 25-17, 25-19, 25-21 Thursday to improve to 6-0 in the TRC.
Southwood came from a set down to beat Wabash in four sets Thursday to also improve to 6-0 in the TRC. Wabash fell to 4-1, leaving Valley and Southwood as the last remaining unbeaten teams in the conference. Southwood travels to Valley on Oct. 7 in what will be the conference finale for both teams.
Rochester will play in the Warsaw Invitational at 9 a.m. Saturday. Their first match will be against Fort Wayne Northrop. Their second match will be against Homestead or Northfield, and they will play two more times after that.
Rochester’s next three matches after the Warsaw Invitational will also be on the road: at Lewis Cass Monday, at Wabash Tuesday and at Winamac next Thursday. Their next home match is against Valley at 6 p.m. Oct. 5.
Rochester def. North Miami, 25-14, 25-14, 25-14
Kylie Coleman – 7 kills, 3 aces, 2 digs, 1 assist, 1 serve received; Lexy Thomas – 3 kills, 1 block, 1 dig, 2 serves received; Kennedy Leap – 9 kills, 1 block, 1 dig; Emily Hughes – 15 kills, 1 ace, 1 block, 6 digs, 1 serve received; Kylee Freant – 1 kill; Alexa Kouskousakis – 1 kill, 27 assists, 12 digs; Rily Holloway – 1 ace, 5 digs, 2 assists, 2 serves received; Kenzie Bradley – 1 ace, 4 digs, 5 serves received; Kylie Houston – 2 aces, 13 digs, 13 serves received; Emma Sells – 7 digs, 7 serves received