SOUTH WHITLEY — It was a nice night on the court for the Whitko volleyball team. The Wildcats hosted Wawasee for a Monday night matchup and sent the Warriors home with a 3-0 loss in what proved to be a pretty quick match.
“Tonight was one of our cleaner nights,” stated Whitko head coach Mike Howard. “Some of our earlier matches, our earlier losses, we had a lot of self-inflicted wounds. That first set was pretty sloppy for us, but we served well enough to get out of trouble. The second set was very clean for us, save for a stretch of about four or five points. System wise and with decision making, this was much cleaner for us tonight.”
Wawasee looked as if it was going to ride some momentum in the first game as it trailed 5-2 then rallied for seven straight points. But the Warriors lost that lead almost as quickly as it was earned. Whitko would regain the lead and the two teams spent the remaineder of the opening set exchanging points before the Wildcats eventually grabbed a 25-19 win.
Wawasee certainly brought enough energy and confidence in the first set, but after taking the loss the Warriors seemed to be disengaged for the rest of the night. While there was still energy from the visiting team, the girls seemed to be playing defeated before the match was even over.
“Honestly, I think they were intimidated,” offered Kayla Riportella, Wawasee’s head coach. “Whitko is a really scrappy team. They’ve got a lot of offensively dominant players. 22 (Kaity Reed) is a force to be reckoned with. When things get tough and when we see players like her, we back off, we get scared. Until we stop backing off, it’s going to be a whole lot harder to pull of wins. These girls will get there, they just need to believe in themselves.”
Riportella was right, Whitko’s Reed was the most dominant player on the court in Monday’s contest. But what made Reed more dangerous now than she was at the beginning of the season is that she is using the weapons around her.
“Kaity is a great player and she’s usually going to be the best athlete on the floor,” Howard explained. “There’s been occasions where she feels a lot of pressure and sometimes overplays. We’re getting her to realize that she can trust her teammates and to be more disciplined in our system. Kaity makes us go, she drives our engine.
“When she’s playing well, and it’s getting her to recognize you only get one point so it doesn’t matter how spectacular you’re hitting the ball. As long it goes to the ground it’s still only one. She’s relaxing and playing. She’s really starting to find her rhythm now and it’s fun to watch her play.”
Reed led Whitko with 26 kills, seven aces and one block. She also recorded 10 digs.
That stat line helped the ‘Cats close out Wawasee 25-17, 25-17 in the final two games.
Whitko was led in assists by Haley Yohe (35) and in digs by Kristina Slater (18). Wawasee was led by Madi Wilson’s 10 digs. Hannah-Marie Lamle and Liz Hardy each notched a pair of blocks.