JOHNSONBURG – Looking to build momentum throughout the 2012 season, the Ramettes got off to a good start on the volleyball court with a 3-1 (25-9, 25-22, 15-25, 25-13) win Tuesday night in their home opener against visiting Sheffield.
“I think all our hitters did well and [senior] Sam Bevacqua served quite well,” said Johnsonburg head varsity volleyball coach Bill Shuey following the win. “We were also able to make some good sets out of bad passes. I guess it’s a good start.”
The home team jumped out to a quick 10-2 start punctuated by a block from Junior Chelsea Benson to set the tone early. Benson later came up with three aces out of four straight service points for an 18-3 advantage in the first set. Johnsonburg would eventually cruise to a 25-9 margin to take the first set.
“I thought we played well in the first game,” Shuey said. “It was team volleyball, we were covering well, our passes and serves were good, and we really put the ball down and it showed with the score.”
The second set was evenly matched at the beginning but the Lady Wolverines started to pull away midway through the action, and held an 8-point lead.
“Our problem in the second game was that we didn’t pass well and obviously Sheffield did some good things and hit the ball well,” Shuey said. “We looked confused at times and that happens sometimes.
“It’s a bit of the inexperience and you just have to get locked on mentally but we were lucky to come back.”
Down by six, Bevacqua served well and her teammates took care of the rest to knot the score at 20-all, culminating with an ace from Bevacqua.
Later, down by a point, Johnsonburg took advantage of a Sheffield service error to tie the score at 21-21; the teams would trade points to 22-22 before senior Brittany Watts broke the stalemate with a soft tap at the net for a 23-22 lead. An errant return from Sheffield pushed the margin to two before Benson ended the set with a kill after a lengthy volley for a two games to none advantage.
The home team had little to celebrate in the third game, however, as they quickly plummeted to a 10-point deficit early and were never able to fully recover.
An ace from sophomore Brianna Cardoni trimmed the margin to 14-5 but the Lady Wolverines took advantage of some lineup changes by the Ramettes to force a fourth game.
“In the third, we were trying some different things with the lineups and I think there was some confusion on the players’ part at times,” Shuey said. “We had a short time period to working on these different things and we were committed to trying a few things [Tuesday] and at times it looked OK. We will keep working on it.”
Johnsonburg made up an early deficit in the fourth game before taking total control. A Bevacqua ace tied the score at 11-all and a kill from senior Allyson Wheeler upped the score 12-11. Watts would later lay down a kill followed by another Bevacqua ace for a 15-11 lead. A tip at the net from Watts would later give the home team a 5-point cushion.
Watts continued to come up big up front, oftentimes catching the Sheffield hitters off-guard with soft shots that just cleared the net.
Watts scored another tip to set the score at 18-13 before Sheffield hit an errant ball into the net. Another Sheffield miscue gave the Ramettes a 20-13 lead and a Watts kill stretched the lead to eight points.
Watts ended the contest with another point at the net for 24-13 before a crucial block ended the match.
“We had maybe nine kills by Brittany Watts in the fourth set and that doesn’t happen without good passing and good setting,” Shuey said. “We passed the ball much better in the fourth set, quite similar to what we did in the first set. I think we found some girls who have been working hard and it shows with their ability on the court.
“A lot of it has to do with them reading things a little better and seeing things happen on the court before they actually happen. Time will tell.”