By Lenny Sementi
It was a busy week for head coach Lydia Millers volleyball squad. The Lady Warriors opened the week on Monday against perennial power Paxton Buckley, then took a long bus ride north to Watseka on Tuesday and ended it with a home Central Illinois Conference match against Warrensburg Lathem on Thursday. Oh, and it was homecoming week to boot, putting powder puff football smack dab in the middle of it all on Wednesday. Add some more time on the floor the night PBL came to town adding both JV and Frosh/Soph matches to the itinerary.
The Lady Panthers gave up just on set on the night but it was to the Warriors varsity squad. “They are tough every year,” stated the coach. “We haven’t had much success against them the past few years but the girls rallied to win game two and never kept fighting. We plated extremely well, our passing and serve receive was outstanding which allowed our setters to move the ball around to our hitters.”
Four Warriors in all posted season best efforts. Kate Dean led the way up front posting 11 kills, five of which came in the second set helping Tuscola rebound from a 18-25 first set loss to force a third game with a 29-27 victory in the second skirmish. Jessie Martin set up the front row delivering a season best 14 assists locating both Dean and Amelia Bosch who ended her night with five kills. Martin also dinked two over the net to open spots for kills as well. Kerri Pierce joined the fray at the net firing up six assists while also getting to five digs.
Hope Dietrich flew around the court collecting a few floor burns on the way to a season and career best 21 digs from her libero position. Kendyl Ring was also strong on the defensive side of the net finding her way to 14 saves while Marissa Russo donated eight. Ring came through at the service line also accounting for 15 service points, including three aces.
It was all Warriors the next night at Watseka capturing the victory in the JV contest 25-16, 20-25, 15-10 before sweeping the maroon and white in the varsity contest 25-20, 25-15 moving to 3-2 on the year. Dean and Bosch did a little bit of everything combining for 16 kills, nine and seven respectively, five digs, two blocks and five aces. Ring checked in with five aces of her own to with 15 saves while Martin added five saves and a match-high ten assists to the team stat sheet. Pierce fed the hitters as well, notching five assists and Dietrich was tops in the dig department for the second consecutive night finishing with seven.
“We were in control from the start and kept them off balance, they struggled to get anything going,” commented Miller. “We used the confidence that we had from the night before against PBL to set the tone early.”
Tuscola dropped its first CIC match of the year two nights later to a visiting Warrensburg Lathem team in two sets 13-25, 20-25. Five players recorded kills in the contest but no one had more than five as the Warriors struggled to set up the offense.
“They were much improved over last year and their outside hitters split our block making it tough on our defense,” the coach said. “Our serve receive struggled so we could not really get our offense going, we just were not very sharp. Hopefully this is a learning experience for us as we move forward.”
Dietrich came through again on defense with nine saves, while Ring and Bosch added six and four to their resume. Bosch turned in a well-rounded effort adding four digs, two blocks and four aces to her kill totals. Martin was tops in the assists column with eight and Dietrich led the charge in the backcourt with nine digs to her credit. Ring, Martin and Reagan Wyrich joined in each tallying six saves as the Warriors moved to .500 on the year with the loss at 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the league.