WOODSTOCK – Woodstock North’s volleyball players already were cheering on the other side of the net, certain Marengo setter Bailey Votava couldn’t keep the ball in play.
For Votava, there never was any doubt. The senior awkwardly got underneath a pass, bent backward and lined a shot behind her that didn’t seem to have a chance of clearing the net.
Instead, the ball skimmed over and dropped to give Marengo a 10-point advantage in Game 3 of the Indians’ nonconference match against the Thunder on Thursday. The play brought the Marengo crowd to its feet and symbolized all the Indians fixed in their 15-25, 25-16, 25-13 victory against North.
After committing 13 errors to lose Game 1, Marengo ditched its two-setter offense in favor of the single-setter 5-1 with Votava running the show. The Indians committed six errors in Game 3 and rolled behind more cohesive play.
“It was just a matter of getting in the reps out there,” said Votava who finished with 10 assists. “You practice this, but it’s obviously not like it is in a game. Once I got to know where my [hitters] were, I was finding them and things started to [click].”
Votava followed the play with an ace to force Woodstock North coach Greg Bruns to call timeout, trailing 20-9. The Thunder (0-1) scored on a quick slide play to senior middle blocker Becca Molve, but North couldn’t retain possession.
Marengo junior outside hitter Peyton Velasquez terminated to give Marengo an 11-point cushion, 21-10. The Indians closed the match on two North errors and kills from sophomore setter Nicole Johnson and senior middle blocker Lyndsey Hoeske.
Velasquez had been quiet during the first set but made up time in the second set with an early kill down the line off a pass from Votava. Velasquez knocked down five in the third set.
“The first game, we were just too excited,” Velasquez said. “In the second, we had a rally and (the Thunder) weren’t covering the middle, so we tipped there and to the outsides.”
“She was on fire tonight,” Votava said. “Her swings were just so good.”
In the first set, North had the Indians on alert thanks in part to aggressive serving from libero Casey Gavers. Gavers served four aces during a six-point run that put the Thunder ahead, 19-11.
As soon as the Indians started putting together an attack in the second set, Bruns could see his inexperienced team become unsettled.
“I kept telling them in those timeouts to relax, take it easy, and I was trying to make them laugh,” Bruns said. “They did get a little (timid).”