Judging by the amount of noise emitted from the locker room after its final match, the Thomas More Prep-Marian volleyball team was pretty happy with its performance in its triangular Tuesday night at TMP.
The Monarchs opened with a sweep of Hill City 25-17, 25-21, but coach Natausha Dreher, who stressed the importance of communication, wished her team would have been a little louder at the beginning of the night.
“We were very quiet,” the coach said. “That’s the thing that we absolutely have to start out (doing) no matter who we play, no matter where play.”
Consistent vocal communication is the key to play the quick and aggressive style of play Dreher wants to see, and the Monarchs were better at that in their second match against Phillipsburg.
The Panthers and Monarchs met in the triangular’s final game after the Panthers beat Hill City 19-25, 25-18 and 25-16 in the second match.
The TMP coach was much happier with her team’s chatter and performance in a 25-16, 25-14 win over Phillipsburg.
“If you start being vocal right away from the get-go, it automatically creates a higher tempo game on our side of the net,” Dreher said.
The Panthers’ defense struggled to match the Monarchs’ quick play early in each of the match’s two sets.
In the first set against Phillipsburg, the Monarchs led 9-1 at one point, and TMP owned a 7-0 lead in the early stages of the second set.
Dreher chalked up the strong starts to assistant coach Shannon Funk as well.
Funk calls the Monarchs serves, which allows the team to avoid the other team’s best passers and get the opponents out of their preferred rhythm in turn. The Monarchs servers did their part on Tuesday.
“She calls all of our girls’ serves,” Dreher said of Funk. “They are hitting the spots that we are asking very, very consistently.”
Against Phillipsburg, the preferred spot was along Panthers’ inexperienced back line. Coach Terra Keeten said the team is without most of its primary defenders and passers from a year ago.
“We kinda struggled with our serve-receive passing against TMP,” Keeten said. “I felt like we gave them too many free-ball opportunities, and against that type of offense, you can’t give up that many free balls.”
While the Monarchs uptempo offense gave the Panthers problems, the TMP offense is focused on becoming even faster as the season progresses.
“I want them to speed up our offense,” Dreher said. “Early in the year, we are going to struggle with that, and we understand that.”
Keeten knows that the only way her team will get better is to face quality opponents and garner additional experience as a unit.
“More chemistry, continuity, court time, you know, and it benefits us to play teams like TMP that run that quick-paced offense,” Keeten said. “That pushes our kids to play at that quick pace as well.”
As far as the Monarchs’ and their communication concerns go, all Dreher is asking for is progress.
“It’s ok if we don’t connect right away as long as they keep going,” Dreher said. “That’s when it becomes an issue, when they quit going at it.”
Kayla Vitztum led the Monarchs with 13 kills and added five blocks alongside Melissa Pfeifer. Bailey Hageman led the team with 16 digs, while Kendra Werth served five aces.
The Monarchs improved to 5-2 and will have a chance to build on Tuesday’s progress when they return to action Saturday at the Trego Invitational.