PONTIAC – Any veteran coach strives for consistency.
Notre Dame Prep volleyball coach Betty Wroubel strives for the same, but is forced to accept that her team this season is going to be excellent at times and far from it other times.
Despite having nine seniors on the 2015 squad, the Irish are also young, having two sophomores and three freshmen. The team also lacks a lot of experience, so the finding consistency hasn’t been easy.
However, Wednesday saw the Irish have a good day, as they picked up three wins on their home floor, beating Stoney Creek, Birmingham Detroit Country Day and Troy Athens in two games each.
“I am pleased with our progress, but we are young, so it could be a situation where we take two steps forward and then take one back. It’s something I am going to have to adjust to this season,” Wroubel said.
Notre Dame Prep (12-2-1) opened the day with a 25-17, 25-16 win over the Yellowjackets thanks to eight service points from senior Emma Kowalkowski and seven kills from sophomore Gabby Shilling.
The Irish then defeated Troy Athens 25-10, 25-10. Kowalkowski had 22 service points and seven aces in that match while Maddy Chinn, Shilling and Natalie Risi each had six kills.
“We just served like crazy against Athens. That was maybe our best serving game,” Wroubel said. “We served aggressively and hit our spots and got a lot of aces.”
The final match was with Stoney Creek and resulted in a 25-23, 25-15 win for the Irish. The opening set saw 21 ties or lead changes before Notre Dame Prep was able to close out the set.
“We had to have a total game against Stoney Creek because their defense is very good and they put up a pretty good offense.”
In the second set, the Irish started fast and didn’t let Stoney Creek (8-5) get into the contest. Cougars head coach Mandy Moran credited the slow start to the opening loss draining her squad.
“I think we just tired out in that last set,” Moran said. “We were so close in the first game that I think the girls lost some steam after coming up short.”
Erica Schwegman finished with 44 assists for the night for the Irish. The two freshmen up front, Risi and Chinn combined for 15 kills in the win over Stoney Creek.
“They are getting better each day,” Wroubel said. “They like to stay after practice and keep working. I have to kick them out of the gym sometimes, which is actually a nice thing for a coach. They are really listening and taking to the coaching and eager to learn. They are freshmen, but their maturity level is much older than that.”
Stoney Creek picked up a 25-11, 25-15 win over Troy Athens and a 25-16, 25-10 win over Country Day prior to the loss to the Irish. The Cougars were led by Sammy Sattmann, who had 22 kills and seven aces while Gabi Cuckovich had 30 digs and Alexa Tomlak had 54 assists.
“We are coming off a really rough quad last week and I thought it was like day-and-night compared to (Wednesday). There was a lot of good things we did (Wednesday) and something good to build on,” Moran said of her team. “We are still developing chemistry and learning with our new players. Our blocking has to get better. That is something we have to struggle with. On offense, we need to be more balanced with our attack and not rely on Sammy so much.”
Country Day finished the night with a 17-25, 25-21, 15-9 win over Troy Athens to go 1-2 on the day.
“This was a good opportunity for us. We wanted to see Notre Dame Prep and find out where we were in comparison to them,” Country Day first-year coach Kim Lockhart said. “Being a new coach this, we are really trying to make some changes this year and I think the girls are coming along and handled the day well.”
Izzy Nino and Sasha Hartje led the Yellowjackets in kills on the night while Abby Morrow led the team in digs.
MI Prep Zone, September 9, 2015