Einck starts on role
PAXTON – Every day at practice, Brittany Einck has a question for her volleyball coach.
"She'll ask, 'What am I doing today?' " said Erika Tock, the Sabers' head coach.
Officially, Einck still is training as a setter, a position she shared last season with Erin Wachtel and the one she played the majority of the summer with her club team.
She also is focusing on passing the ball. In St. Thomas More's Thursday night season opener – which counted in the Sangamon Valley Conference standings – Einck was the full-time libero as the Sabers secured a two-set sweep against Paxton-Buckley-Loda by identical 25-21 scores.
"I'm excited to take on a new role," said Einck, one of five seniors who play regularly. "I'm trying to get comfortable with it."
The role is not totally new nor is it totally unexpected. She suspected such a change might occur and used the summer to get ready.
"I worked on both in the offseason," Einck said.
Wachtel, another of the seniors, handed out 17 assists in the team's first match, but Tock hasn't settled on whether she'll go exclusively with a one-setter lineup.
"We have a lot of juniors who are good defensive players and I may start working them in," she said. "Brittany did pretty well."
The coach couldn't say the same about the team's serving, an area which is projected as a strength. St. Thomas More committed 17 service errors, including 10 in the first set.
"We serve very aggressively (with five jump-servers in the Thursday lineup), but the girls understand, we've got to get the serves in," Tock said. "Usually I give them a zone and they serve it there every single time."
Einck said the serving problems took some luster off the victory. "It was the first game, but that's not an excuse," she said. "Maybe we got them gone, so we'll be better."
PBL (1-1) was unable to take advantage, having just one spurt in each set where it scored more than two points in succession.
"With that many bad serves, we needed to get some three- or four-point rallies," Panthers coach Kristin Oyer said.
PBL had serving woes as well, with nine faults for the match.
Jenna Einck (seven kills), Morgan Buerkett (five kills) and Maggie Fitzgerald (five kills) – the team's other seniors – led the Sabers' attack. For Fitzgerald, who had a match-high two blocks, it was her first prep match since her sophomore season.
The 6-foot-2 Fitzgerald missed all of her junior year in volleyball and basketball while recovering from a shoulder injury.
"They had a quicker tempo," Oyer said. "We tried to make adjustments, but they made nice swings."
Despite its inconsistencies from the service line, STM scored the 25th point of each set on an ace. Becca Millage finished off Set 1, and Buerkett ended the match.
Except for what she saw from the service line, Tock was pleased.
"It was a great first match," she said. "We did a lot of what we've worked on in practice."
Casey Sanders led PBL with four kills.