Entering the Great Lakes Christian Tournament Coach Spooner had every reason to be optimistic. “We have six freshman on the team this year adding to our returning class and every player on this team will contribute. Our defense and passing will significantly improve and the key will be putting the ball in play and minimizing our mistakes as a young team.”
In the first match of the season the Tigers faced Northland International University, last years regional third place team. In the first set the Tigers allowed a 10 point lead but came roaring back losing 22-25. “Our attack % was in the low teens and against a team like Northland, you have to put the ball in play disrupting their offense.” The second set was much the same except it was the Tigers taking an early lead only to lose 21-25. The Tigers lost the third set 14-25.
“Overall I was quite pleased with our play, considering I’m still changing rotations and finding out different players strengths. Our passing and defense was very solid but we struggled with service and hitting errors. But considering most of our practice time has been on defense I could see the potential on the floor.” Coach Spooner also noted the attitude of the team was very confident and felt they played as one even though it was the first match. Sophomore Naomi Kemper had 11 kills, six digs while Junior middle hitter Joee Spooner had 6 kills and 5 blocks. Freshman Jessica Ryan played outstanding defense as libero with 11 digs and 97% serve receive.
The second match of the night pitted the Tigers against the home team, Great Lakes Christian. In the first set the Tigers jumped out to an early lead by establishing good ball control and significantly improving on their attack % winning 25-15. In the second set Grace jumped out to an 19-6 lead with intelligent ball placement and great defense, eventually winning 25-11. The third set started off sluggish but the Tigers regained their focus and won the match with a 25-17 win.
“That second set showed me the tremendous potential this young team has. Shelby Jamieson was outstanding setting especially in her attack choices. We made smart decisions and very consistent putting the ball in play. Our attack % for the match was over 40%.”
Once again the Tigers were lead by Naomi Kemper with 9 kills and Joee Spooner with 8. Shelby had 14 assists with 3 kills herself along with a team high 4 aces. Hopkins High standout freshman Jessica Ryan again led the team with a 95% serve receive.
The Tigers will face Dayspring Bible College tomorrow at 1:00pm. “Dayspring is a very unorthodox team that just keeps getting the ball up and over with maddening consistency. We will need to adapt our defense and again make the same good decision on attacking the ball putting it into play.” Coach Spooner pointed out in looking ahead to Saturday’s match.