Blue Devils overcome rough start to win season opener

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 30, 2019 12:20 am Updated: Aug. 30, 2019 1:12 am

QUINCY -- The Tim Hill era of Quincy High School girls volleyball got off to a shaky start Thursday night.

The Blue Devils lost 12 of the first 14 points in the opening set against Chatham Glenwood thanks to a combination of errors and miscommunication, and Hill was forced to use two timeouts just to calm his team down.

Those timeouts seemed to work as QHS went on to close the gap to 14-9 before eventually dropping the first set 25-16. But by the end of the first it was clear the Blue Devils were becoming more comfortable.

That showed in the next two sets, as QHS jumped out to an early lead and eventually won a back-and-forth second set. Then in the third, they blew the Titans out of the water to secure a season-opening 16-25, 25-19, 25-11 victory at the QHS gym.

"At the beginning, I think we were all just stuck in our own minds," Blue Devils senior outside hitter Alexis Wolf said. "We all were kinds of jittery I guess, nervous with the first game for the season and getting out there. It was hard to find the momentum at the beginning, but then luckily coach just told us, ‘Hey, just take a chill pill, play our game and go out there and have fun.'

"We were able to go out there and dig out of the hole in that first set a little bit and that brought over momentum to the second."

Hill chose a calm reaction to the rough start and it paid dividends.

"We were down 12-2, there was nothing I was really going to say that was going to fire these girls up," Hill said, "so it was just, ‘Hey, we're down, go have some fun and let's relax a little bit, find our rhythm again.' It took them a few more points, but they found their rhythm. They took some deep breaths."

The way the Blue Devils (1-0) responded to the early deficit set up the later run.

"If we hadn't found it in that first set, I don't know if we would have been able to find it in the second set," Wolf said. "Usually the team that wins the first set, that carries over the momentum so it's hard to find that momentum."

Wolf was a big part of the reason QHS came back. After having just two kills in the first set, Wolf went off for five in the second and four in the third, giving her a team-high of 11 kills.

"At the beginning, I wasn't sure how we were going to play, what we were going to do, but we found the momentum and we all started to work together as a team and finally play," she said.

Senior Lauren Erke got the momentum rolling in the first set with three kills on her way to six total, and senior Emma Sparrow slammed two kills in both the second and third sets after failing to record one in the first.

There was a tough presence at the net as well, with Wolf recording three blocks and Sparrow and Sam Dietrich each sending back two shots. De'Onna Douglas had 24 total assists.

"We played very consistent volleyball in the second two sets, which helped us a lot," Hill said. "We don't need to talk about the first set."

Laura Kaiser led Chatham Glenwood with seven kills, while Mya Hammond followed with six.

As a whole, Hill was pleased with how his Blue Devils began to mesh into their new offensive and defensive looks.

"The girls were a little bit out of position, but they are picking up on it," he said. "The tempo is getting closer to where I want it to be, and overall I liked what I saw."

The most important thing is the girls were able to fight back and come out on top, which Hill said is invaluable experience from the first contest.

"Getting that first win is good to settle them," he said. "We've got a big tournament this weekend that we are hosting and we are going to have more matches, so it's good getting a win going into that because the girls know what they can do and what they need to work on now."