Mater Dei's Kelly Voss
Always looking for ways to improve has been a hallmark of the Mater Dei volleyball program through the years.
The latest area of emphasis has been speed and that quicker attack came in handy Tuesday in a 25-16, 25-17 victory over the Althoff Crusaders.
“One of the things we really want to do is get faster,” said Mater Dei coach Chad Rakers, whose 22-5 squad got 10 kills and 11 service points in a monster effort by senior Kelly Voss. “We want to work faster and we want to be able to take our speed against teams and challenge them every chance that we get.
“I’m excited about the way that we’re playing, excited about the path that we’re taking.”
Voss, a senior headed to McKendree University, was in fast-forward all night. She had six of her 10 kills during the first set and kept chewing on a constant diet of sets from Brooke Remmert (17 assists) and Katie Haake (six assists).
The Knights rebounded quickly from a two-set loss to Missouri powerhouse St. Joseph’s Academy on Saturday.
“We’re just really trying to speed up our game and take control of a lot of our matches,” Voss said. “We’ve really grown since the beginning of the season.”
SENIOR LEADER FOR KNIGHTS
The Knights survived a rough stretch of three straight losses earlier and recently have been without injured libero Katie Hitpas. The strong play and leadership of the seniors, especially Voss, is making an impact with the playoffs approaching.
“I don’t know if I can ask much more,” Rakers said of Voss, who has a tea-leading 223 kills. “She’s our go-to kid when the pressure’s on. Whether she’s having a great game or having a poor game, the ball’s going to her and she knows it — and she doesn’t fear it. That’s the most important part.
“All the girls trust her, all the girls know what she can do and they love to be on the court with her. I don’t know how much more you can ask out of a senior leader than that.”
Althoff (10-14) got six kills from Central Arkansas recruit and senior middle hitter Alanna Bramwell and four kills from junior Emily Myatt.
Both games were nearly identical, with Althoff hanging close early and Mater Dei going on a decisive run late in the set. Althoff led 17-16 in the second set and never scored again thanks to a 9-0 run by the Knights.
A four-point service run by Remmert and a flurry of four kills by Voss helped put the first set out of reach. In the second set, Voss had a kill and then ran off an eight-point service run to close out the match.
“At the end end of the game is when you really have to step up your play and figure out a way to side-out, to get the ball back and the momentum,” Althoff coach Sara Thomas Dietrich said. “That’s the one thing that we struggled with. They went on a blocking run and we couldn’t figure out what else to do.
“That’s just being young. I’ve got four or five sophomores out there at one time, so it’s good experience for them.”
A recent lineup change that saw Dietrich switch the majority of her outside hitters and middle hitters is beginning to show signs of improvement.
“We changed our lineup and were able to get our middles, especially Alanna, the ball more,” Dietrich said. “I also thought our defense was pretty good. I think our lineup change has given everybody more versatile positions and the girls are really jelling with it and going with it.
“I’m seeing huge improvement in our all-round play.”