By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s volleyball team kicked off the 2021 volleyball season seven months later than usual but the Warrior spikers and head coach Lydia Miller were excited to take their turn in this odd sports school year. With basketball not starting until late January and ending in mid March practice time was limited to just seven days for seniors Kate Dean, Kendyl Ring, and Jessie Martin and even less for Lainey Cummings, Marissa Russo and Hope Dietrich who were still competing in basketball.
“We did not have much practice time to prepare and we have to correct things on the fly with a busy schedule,” stated coach Miller. “I have noticed the change in the “type” of players we have because I am now seeing them at the end of the school year instead of the beginning. They are stronger, faster, jump higher and hit the ball harder because of their development in the weight room during the school year.”
With that being said the group hit the floor running last Tuesday, March 16 posting a two match sweep of visiting Marshall winning the first set 25-18 before dominating and running the Lions off the court in game two with a dominating 25-6 performance. Dean and junior Amelia Bosch led the way at the net. The twin towers on the right and left side of the offense combined for 13 kills in the two game skirmish. Dean recorded eight, four of which came in a ten-point Warrior run in game two.
“Our setters are moving the ball around on offense very well right now and getting it to Kate and Amelia, they make it look easy,” commented the coach. “There are also getting Kendyl and Marissa involved, and Hope is stepping up in the libero role for us.”
Martin led all with a match best ten assists. She and Keri Pierce fed the duo up front and also found Ring and Russo who stepped up with three kills apiece. Ring was tops in the digs department with seven, followed by Russo who tallied five, while Martin found her way to four. Tuscola was also strong at the service line serving up nine aces with Ring at the front of the class with three. Bosch and Dean each added two aces to the teams stat line.
“The girls were excited after the win over Marshall,” the coach said. They had a slow start, but got into a rhythm and were able to work well together as the night wore on.”
Two nights later on Thursday they collected their first Central Illinois Conference victory dropping Central A&M in historic TCHS Gymnasium in two sets giving up just 24 points total to the Lady Raiders winning 25-12, 25-12. Martin was one better checking in with 11 assists in the league opener. She found Dean seven times for kills and Bosch five times. Russo and Ring each had one kill and came up big on deck, delivering four and six respectively while Dietrich secured six saves from her defensive specialist position.
Dean, Ring, Russo, Pierce and junior Reagen Wyrich were put of numerous Warrior runs serving up laser beams as those five players all recorded aces in the match. Pierce was at the front of the class with four to her credit.
“One of our goals at the start was to go undefeated in the conference and win it,” commented Miller. “They took the first step in the right direction tonight.”
Sandwiched in between was the squads first set back a road loss to perennial powerhouse Windsor Stew-Stras. A slow start in game one was tough to overcome as the Lady Fillies posted a pair of eight-point runs en-route to a 11-25 victory. In the second set the front row found its grooves getting kills by Dean, Bosch, Ring and Russo but it was not enough as the home team secured the back and forth affair late. Windsor scored the final three points to notch win the set 21-25 and the match.
Dean the North Dakota signee was strong in every aspect accounting for three kills, three digs, three blocks and one ace. Dietrich and Ring were everywhere on defense diving their way to a season best eight saves each. The Warriors ended week one with a 2-1 record overall and a 1-0 tally in the CIC.