Wood volleyball sweeps Pioneers
Posted: October 3, 2012
WINCHESTER — It took Millbrook the better part of three sets to test James Wood in Tuesday night’s Northwestern District volleyball match, but Colonels sophomore outside hitter Katie Houser made sure the Pioneers didn’t take a set.
Houser helped the Colonels fend off four set points, scoring four of James Wood’s final five points of the third set in a 3-0 (25-9, 25-17, 28-26) win over Millbrook at Casey Gymnasium.
“We definitely wanted to go home [in three],” said Houser, who led the Colonels with 21 kills and 11 digs. “I would have been mad at myself if I didn’t get [those points].
“I think we learned there that you’ve got to keep your energy up the entire game or any team can come back on you. I think we ended up beating ourselves in that last set.”
The Colonels (11-2, 3-0) never trailed in the first two sets and led all the way through the third until back-to-back kills by Courtney Adams followed by an errant hit by James Wood put the Pioneers (2-11, 0-3) ahead for the first time 21-20.
Two more kills by Millbrook’s Ashley Humphrey and Holly Stevens extended the Pioneers’ lead to 23-20.
An errant hit by James Wood’s Erica Hepner gave the Pioneers set point with a 24-22 advantage.
But Houser came up with the clutch points on three of Millbrook’s four set points.
Her first kill cut the Pioneers’ lead to one at 24-23, and Hepner tied it with a service point.
A service error by Hepner gave Millbrook set point No. 3, but Houser blasted a spike off Adams to knot the set at 25 and then added another kill on the Pioneers’ fourth set point to tie it at 26.
Houser stepped to the service line, reeling off two straight points — including an ace on match point — to end it.
James Wood coach Jill Couturiaux said she told her players to continue to attack and was pleased with how well her team responded to the Pioneers’ challenge in the final set.
“When push came to shove I told them at the last timeout ‘don’t play not to lose but play to win,’” Couturiaux said. “I think that we did that. The one ball that Katie hit to tie things up before she went back to serve was a very aggressive swing. It’s a risky shot off a side she’s not used to hitting off of and then she goes back and hits two top-spin serves. So again, it’s staying aggressive.”
Millbrook first-year coach Ashley Sutphin said her team showed improved teamwork in the third set against the Colonels.
“It’s hard to pick their heads up [after falling behind 2-0] but they pulled through in that third one and really fought for it,” Sutphin said. “We were actually getting to some of James Wood’s tips and those were some of the basic fundamentals that we missed in those first couple games that we finally got around to doing in the third game.”
Houser made it tough on the Pioneers’ defense, blasting eight kills in the Colonels’ 25-9 win in the opening set.
James Wood’s front-line play gave Millbrook more trouble in the second set.
Colonels senior outside hitter Tarah Wampler added four kills and two aces, Houser added three kills and Hepner chipped in with two kills and ace to pace James Wood to a 25-17 win.
James Wood senior setter Emilee Payne had a team-high 26 assists, Hepner added a team-best three aces and tied with senior teammate Abigayle Sytsma with a team-high two blocks.
“I think we have a very strong team all the way around,” Wampler said. “Pretty much anybody can do anything and that’s what makes us a good team.
“We got in a little funk in that third game but in those last few points we all pulled together and got the win.”
After taking a 2-0 lead, Couturiaux said the team’s defense struggled a bit in the final set.
“In the third I thought we definitely played very little defense,” said Couturiaux, whose team has won four straight. “We weren’t even attempting to go after balls defensively and that’s just not the way that they’ve been trained or how we operate in practice and how we typically play.”
Adams led Millbrook — who has lost 10 straight — with five kills, and senior Brittany Whitacre added three aces.
Sutphin said the team struggled covering the court defensively, especially in the first two sets, but she said the team might be able to build on some of the things it worked on in set three.
“In the third game I had Taylor Linder setting and that’s the first time she’s ever done that,” Sutphin said. “I had Sarah [Duvall] — who has been my setter consistently — in back row and she stepped up to the plate and tried something new. I think we’re just trying to figure out the lineup that works best for us right now.”
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