Rochester volleyball shows off two-setter system with Kouskousakis, Lett but falls to Plymouth
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
PLYMOUTH — The Rochester volleyball team showed off a two-setter system in their season opener against host Plymouth Saturday.
Improving their defense would appear to be their next step, according to coach Erin Leap.
Plymouth utilized service pressure and exploited the middle of the Rochester defense to claim a 25-17, 25-14, 25-19 win Saturday.
The system had senior Alexa Kouskousakis and sophomore Lillee Lett trading off sets. Senior Rily Holloway was the libero, sophomore Audrey Bolinger worked out of the middle, and Kylie Coleman and Kennedy Leap were the main outside hitters with help from fellow senior Kylee Freant.
Junior Emma Sells and sophomores Rylee Clevenger and Mia Howdeshell also saw playing time.
“I saw a lot more movement towards balls and not just balls dropping without any effort,” Leap said. “I saw a lot more trying to read and decide where things were going to go. So I saw a lot more touches than we had so far.”
Plymouth led 16-14 in Game 1 before closing the game on a 9-3 run. Freant had a two-handed tip to the deep corner and an ace during the run, and Kouskousakis put a tip down, but Taylor Delp, a 6-0 senior and a hitting threat from all over the court, was an offensive threat for Plymouth.
Plymouth jumped out to a 12-0 lead in Game 2. Marley Christy had five aces during the run.
Kouskousakis had three kills in Game 3 – one on a dump, one on a spike and one on a tip – but Plymouth went on an 11-5 run to take a 15-9 lead and cruised from there.
Emily Hughes, Rochester’s top hitter from 2021, graduated and is now playing at the University of St. Francis.
“The most discouraging thing today was I feel like our hitters weren’t terminating anything,” coach Leap said. “We weren’t getting our arms high. We weren’t getting good swings on balls. And so I feel like we need to go back to some fundamentals with that with getting our arms up and our elbows up and ready to swing. So we’ll hit that Monday.”
Leap did like the on-court interplay between Kouskousakis and Lett.
“They work well together,” coach Leap said. “We’re still trying to find our lineup. So we’re experimenting with some things. We have a couple serve receive patterns that we need to figure out between our setters. ‘Kous’ is a really good passer, so I want her to pass when she can. So we had a little bit of confusion, but that’s nobody’s fault. We’re just still learning where people need to be and who we need where. So we’ll get that figured out. We usually get everything figured out at Tomahawk (Invitational at North Miami), so normally we’ll go through some lineups, and hopefully by the end of Tomahawk, we’ll know where we’re going to be.”
But Plymouth kept attacking the middle of the Rochester defense, just past the front row and just in front of the back row. They did it on both serves and attacks. Coach Leap said this was also an issue during the scrimmage against Northwestern on Thursday.
“We tried to kick into a rotational defense where we have someone there, so that doesn’t happen,” coach Leap said. “But it’s really hard to break old habits. So our perimeter defense comes sneaking back in, so we kind of forget where we’re supposed to be, so that crept on us today. So we’re going to look at that again. We might kick back into a perimeter defense and decide who’s going to get that short ball. … We’re still playing with all of it.”
Coach Leap also liked the forthright attitude from Holloway.
“Rily is doing an excellent job,” coach Leap said. “She has stepped up and wants the position. Everybody’s an instrumental part of the team, but she wants to be a go-to person. She wants the challenge of that position.”