Waubonsie Valley invested a portion of a two-hour Labor Day practice working on putting away opponents’ overpasses.
It looks like time well spent. The Warriors cashed in on several South Elgin free balls that came their way, ringing up a 25-15, 25-15 win in the Upstate Eight Conference opener Tuesday in Aurora.
Caroline Cordes, who had three kills and six blocks, and Becky Breuer, who had four kills, were two of the main beneficiaries.
Cordes had a couple kills on overpasses and Breuer one during a 9-1 run in Game 1 that surged the Warriors ahead 10-4.
What a difference three days made.
“We really struggled with overpasses at the Benet Invite,” Breuer said. “It was awesome that we were able to translate what we worked on in practice and put it into effect during a match.”
Practicing overpasses is a little unorthodox for passers not normally taught to just lob free balls over the net. The hitting end seems simple enough, but it takes repetition.
“You just want to put it down any way you can, as quick as possible,” Breuer said. “Timing is really important with those, making sure you get up at the right time and finding an open spot on the court to hit it.”
Warriors coach Kristen Stuart has watched her team win three straight matches, starting with its final two Saturday at Benet, and is enjoying the progress.
“It’s nice that I feel like something is getting better every match,” Stuart said. “We’re seeing one progression at a time.”
Waubonsie (5-2, 1-0) had the benefit of a week’s worth of matches under its belt leading into Tuesday. South Elgin, playing its season-opening match, not only didn’t have that advantage —the Storm was breaking in a whole lot of new.
South Elgin, 20-13 a year ago, started a freshman at setter (Casie Swanson) and at libero (Sarah Murray). Senior Renee Rush, the other setter in the Storm’s 6-2 offense, has only played outside before this year. The Storm also has a couple girls playing back row who have never done so before, but coach Joni Plach found much to build on.
“There were a lot of positives that happened,” Plach said. “It totally looked like [our] first match. Our communication definitely broke down and that’s how Waubonsie got a lot of its points. Definitely our serve receive was something I knew we had to work on. If the setters got the ball to our girls, we have five good hitters.”
Rush had six kills and seven digs, Murray eight digs and Swanson seven assists for the Storm.
Brooke Burling had 14 digs and Sydney Slevin 10 for Waubonsie, which ripped off a 13-2 run at the start of Game 2 . Lauren Hiller had six assists and Lauren Howard three kills.
What the Warriors might lack in size — Cordes, at 5-11, is their tallest player — they compensate for in athletic ability. It helps them cover the court well, and allows them to make tough shots. Breuer’s off-balance kill that she adjusted on in midair to set up match point was just one example.
“We’re a pretty scrappy team, fast and athletic,” Breuer said, “and we need to use that horizontal speed to translate to vertical speed and hit harder with more power.”