September 8th, 2018

Rockets sweep Mercy for Ultra Ankle LVIT title

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer

Rockets sweep Mercy for Ultra Ankle LVIT title
Assumption's Rylee Rader prepares to soar for one of her 7 kills/photo by Eric Thorne

Despite regional and state championships there was one elusive title Kentucky’s top ranked volleyball team had wanted back – the LVIT title.

That championship hardware has returned to Assumption’s trophy case after the Rockets easily took down No. 3 ranked Mercy 25-12, 25-13 in the Ultra Ankle Louisville Volleyball Invitational Tournament Saturday at the KIVA Sports Center.

“I told the girls we haven’t won this thing for like over four years which is kind of amazing since we dominated it for so long,” Assumption Coach Ron Kordes said. “I told them never overlook anyone and focus on being more consistent. We had a tough match the other night, but I want them to play consistent and never take their foot off the pedal.”

After the Jaguars battled Assumption in a five set thriller just nine days where they fell just short coach Matthew Thomerson’s squad couldn’t overcome a lackadaisical error filled start.

“We just didn’t execute our game plan and I thought we played a little timid out there and things didn’t go as well as they did the last time we met,” Thomerson said. “You have to consider when you have five sets to make adjustments verses best of three like today it’s a little different environment.”

Mercy (13-3) scored the first point of game one only to commit six consecutive miscues. After pulling within 8-4 following Emma Schurfranz’s third kill, Assumption quickly regrouped with seven unanswered points.

Holding a 19-9 lead Assumption asserted itself at the net as Rylee Rader pounded down three kills during a 6-3 run to close out the first game.

“The girls played well but you could tell they were just a little flat and not as prepared as they needed to be,” Thomerson said. “If you are going to play any team that is solid especially like Assumption you just don’t start out down four or five points off errors. You can’t do that and be successful.”

“A game like that needs to be side out point for point game and hope to hold on for a serve for two or three points or make a two or three point run and we didn’t’ do that tonight.”

Powerful outside hitter Anna DeBeer recorded 11 kills on 17 attempts in the match along with six digs.

Assumption (16-0) finished the match with 30 kills.

“I think we learned from the last match that what happened wouldn’t happen again,” DeBeer said. “We wanted to focus on taking care of the ball better, and really wanted to start strong and gain the momentum. Our defense and blocking has really gotten so much better.”

The Rockets were too strong up front with Rader racking up seven kills, and backed up with three apiece from Mary Ann O’Toole, Emma Monks and Callie Martin.

“Our advantage is our size and if we don’t use that it nullifies everything,” Kordes said. “I was proud of our aggressiveness and we just can’t make service errors. Mercy has great athletes over there and they are smart.”

Mercy started game two much more focused and the teams were tied at 2-2 when the Rockets shifted gears and reeled off a 10-2 run before Jayme Scott recorded the Jaguars only second kill of the game till that point.

Despite Scott’s best effort to keep her team in the game DeBeer and Martin proved too much in game two and senior Camille Nazor ended the match with a block for the win.

“When we played them before we started slow and were able to come back firing, but today we could have done with more games but we have to learn from our mistakes,” Scott said. “We need to use hitters better because our passes were on, but we have some things in the front row we need to fix.”

Scott paced the Jaguars hitting from the outside with seven kills, six digs and a service ace. Shurfranz kept the Rockets off balance at the net with seven kills and an ace. Mercy finished with 17 kills.

“I don’t think we played as team today and more like individuals who looked blank with no energy,” Scott said.

The two teams now take a break from local action and head to the Durango Fall Classic in Las Vegas next weekend where they will both tangle with bigger, stronger and unfamiliar teams.

Assumption will take a top ranking in the state and high national ranking to Vegas, but with a target on their back. The Rockets haven’t lost since September 30 of last year – a span of 30 games.

“We’ve proven we can play some very good volleyball, but we have to prove to ourselves just how consistent we are,” Kordes said. “This will be fun but we’ll see different play and coaching like roll shots from them playing beach volleyball.”

DeBeer, a University of Louisville commit, said the Rockets are ready for new competition.

“It’s going to be good to see a lot of different teams and competition and how we react,” DeBeer said. “There will be a lot of nationally ranked teams and we just need to focus on every ball knowing every play counts and see where that goes.”

Rader, an Ohio State commit, is really looking to showcase how talented the Rockets are.

“I’m very much looking forward to Vegas and I’m going to see some really big girls across the net,” Rader said. “We prepare every year for Vegas, and we really want that gold this year. This will be a fun trip but we have to make every game count.”

Mercy and Assumption may very well meet again in Vegas, but Scott knows the Jaguars have work to do.

“In Vegas teams play different and we need to adjust to that way and they will see us and hopefully a battle which we need,” Scott said. “We have to work on blocking and finding more shots. It’s going to take a lot of reps to get better.”



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