Maroons rebound from loss
MAHOMET — The winner was volleyball.
It won’t show up that way in the scorebook, where the top-ranked area team, Champaign Central, swept the area’s second-ranked team, Mahomet-Seymour, 25-23, 25-17 on Thursday night.
En route to determining the outcome on the court, both high school squads had moments of high-caliber play.
The difference? Central had more of those moments.
“We looked very crisp,” said Central coach Evan Hook, whose squad played its second match.
After suffering a season-opening loss Wednesday, the Maroons had a list of objectives to achieve as they returned to action.
“We had a lot of goals,” outside hitter Dana Westfield said. “The main goal was to get the goals.”
Westfield was the statistical leader, pounding a match-high 10 kills. Individual goals, however, weren’t a priority.
“We were focused on team goals,” Westfield said. “Supporting each other. Cheering each other on.”
Central (1-1) had plenty of reason to cheer, and it did. A three-pronged offensive attack — featuring three underclassmen — accounted for 20 kills, which was nearly double the total (11) the Bulldogs managed.
Maddie LeGrande and Alyssa Olson each had five kills for Hook’s youthful team, which has one senior on the roster.
“The girls seem to play more relaxed when they focus on team goals,” Hook said. “When you focus on yourself, it’s harder to let that aggressiveness come out, whether it’s serving or hitting.”
Serving was the factor M-S coach Ron Hoppe pinpointed as the major factor.
“The reason we were successful in the past against Central was that we won serve and serve-receive,” Hoppe said. “Our serving was on par (including two aces apiece by Tori Veldman and Sirena Woo), but our serve-receive was bad (Thursday).”
Central landed 10 aces, including seven while pulling away in the second set. Setter Emma Atkinson (match-high 14 assists) had four aces, and libero Virtuous Thomas had three aces to go with a match-high 11 digs.
The Maroons’ trio of hitters, LeGrande, Olson and Westfield, had three combined hitting errors for the match. The key, Westfield said, is not to let one mistake lead to a series of miscues.
“Sometimes, I mess up,” Westfield said. “Before, I would get down on myself. Now I know I can get the next one. You won’t get anywhere feeling down on yourself.”
M-S’ bright spot offensively was 6-foot-2 junior Cortney Bohn. She had team-high totals of six kills and four blocks. Woo led M-S with nine digs.