DANVILLE – First, you notice the power.
Then, you notice the aggressiveness.
Finally, you pause to wonder: How good will St. Thomas More's volleyball team be when it adds a third element – consistency – to its arsenal?
Coach Heather Wilson Horn has a pretty good idea.
"Once we get the confidence to do these things, we'll be a great team," said the school's second-year coach who has installed a sophisticated offense that has been potent and erratic early this season.
In the final round of Schlarman's round-robin tournament on Thursday, the Sabers won a three-game match against Tuscola and dropped a three-game match to the unbeaten tournament champion Hilltoppers, but the coach left the building with a smile.
"I'm going home excited with the progress we made tonight," she said.
Her 14-player roster features 14 athletes who use a floating jump serve. No one serves flat-footed.
"Having an aggressive serve puts additional pressure on the other team," Wilson Horn said.
Against Schlarman, the Sabers had a match serve, but couldn't get the decisive point. In that match, however, St. Thomas More held a 37-15 edge in kills.
"I'm willing to take a loss as long as I know we're working on skill development which will make us better in three weeks," she said. "I tell them to keep working on what we ask you to work on.
"When we have it in synch, how well will we play?"
In the two Thursday matches, Brianna Jacobs had 31 digs, Kailey Buenting had 29 assists, Theresa Laumann had 19 kills and Erin Wachtel had seven aces for St. Thomas More.
Though the Sabers had the heavy hitters, Schlarman coach Jamison Kuemmerle had a plan.
"They are a powerful team, but a team that hits that hard usually misses a lot," said Kuemmerle, whose squad picked up 29 of its total points on Sabers errors. "We try to serve well and play defense. This was a huge win for our girls."
Wilson Horn doesn't hesitate to make use of her bench.
"We have 14 really good players who can provide a big upside for us," she said.
Besides losing to St. Thomas More 25-20, 18-25, 25-23, Tuscola dropped a 25-23, 25-16 decision to Salt Fork. Jordan Fogerson had 25 digs for the two matches and Tuscola teammate Molly Romine had 14 kills. Romine and Rebecca Swaney each served four aces.