By David Troppens
Linden — Deena Maher has one thought she expresses to her Holly varsity volleyball players consistently — to be aggressive.
But there was a time late in the first set against Linden with her team trailing she wondered if playing it safe made more sense.
The passive thoughts didn’t last long. Maher decided to have her team continue their “let’s be aggressive” mindset and it paid off. Holly bounced back to win the first set and ended up earning a 25-23, 25-12, 25-15 victory against the Eagles.
Holly trailed 20-13 after Linden’s Maddie Shier recorded a kill. However, over the next three vollies, Jewell had two kills and a shared block kill with Marissa Walker, cutting the gap to 20-16. Linden still led 21-17 a few plays later.
But that’s when Jewell’s tough service paid off with five straight points. By the time the run ended with a kill by Amanda Patterson, the Bronchos led 22-21. Holly went on to control the rest of the set. A block kill by Paige Weeder gave the Bronchos the 25-23 victory in the first set.
“At that point, the team really taught me something,” Maher said. “I always tell them not to play it safe and we are going to play it aggressive. Sarah has this great top-spin serve and at one point I was wondering if we should just be safe. I figured to just let her go for it, and she did the rest.”
Holly never let go of control of the match. Holly’s strong passing game resulted in 16 kills in the second set, with Kennedy Hogan providing seven of those kills. Conversely, Linden managed just seven kills in the second set, resulting in the Bronchos’ 25-12 second-set win.
The Bronchos continued to cruise in the third set. Holly had 13 kills versus just three hitting errors in the final set with five different players providing kills. Marissa Walker had four of those kills.
While Holly’s passing and strong service game controlled the match, Linden’s passing struggled mightily, making it hard for the Eagles to get back into the contest. Linden had just 20 kills and 14 hitting errors during the match, making it tough to be competitive. The last couple of seasons the two squads have done battle in two five-set matches.
“We all just had a lot of good energy,” Weeder said. “One of our goals is to be loud, not get down and we all really want to be together as well.”
“We’ve been working on passing for a long time,” Maher said. “Our passing was great tonight, but I think the biggest thing is how we came together. The communication was huge. We were talking the whole time. Everyone was talking the whole time and keeping each other accountable. It was so nice to see it come together. It felt really good.”
Weeder thinks the Metro victory means more than the win itself.
“It gives us a lot of confidence,” Weeder said. “We always thought that we should be competing in the league and now we are.”
Sarah Jewell led Holly with 11 kills while Weeder had eight kills. Kennedy Hogan had seven kills while Walker had six kills and two block kills.
Linnea Wittbrodt had nine kills to pace Linden’s offense, while Shier had seven kills.