Katherine Jones showed her former college teammate Sumer Way what it’s like to have experience and power at her dispense Tuesday night.
Jones’ Hillsdale Academy Colts’ toppled Way’s young, yet athletic Hornets squad in straight sets at The Hive and the first-year coach has now guided her team to victories over SCAA foe Camden-Frontier and her crosstown rival in her first month on the job.
“It’s awesome. We knew they would be tough because it always is in this rivalry….plus I played with Sumer at Hillsdale College so it’s a big rivalry between the two coaches from Hillsdale,” Jones said, flashing a wide grin. “It was good, it was nice to see a familiar face on the other bench, it was awesome.”
The Colts (5-5-1) downed the Hornets 25-18, 25-6, 25-13, with the obvious difference being in the court IQ and communication departments.
The Hornets (2-10-1) showed plenty of athleticism, but with five underclassmen and just three seniors on the 12-girl roster it was difficult to compete with a veteran Colts squad that has been through the rigors of the state playoffs a couple of times.
Jones’ said her team seems to be brimming with confidence as of late, and playing well against some much bigger competition last week aided that.
“Our experience has probably helped us, plus this past week we played in a tournament in Frankenmuth and we played the (2008) Class A state finalist,” she said. “The first game against them we didn’t play great, but the second time we played awesome and I think that really helped our confidence.”
The Hornet defense kept the first set close and Hillsdale actually took a 15-13 lead at one point, but some well-placed, well-timed shots from players like junior Heather Lantis helped the Colts finish it out on a 12-3 run.
Power hitters Grace Leutheuser and Laura Wonders found their groove in a dominating second set, and Grae Barber also made several clutch plays in the final two games as the Colts coasted to the sweep.
Barber had a team-high 12 kills, while Leutheuser added 11 and Wonders had eight.
“(Grace and Laura) both play middle so they are opposite each other, so we always have someone strong to get up there,” Jones said. “Everybody played really well tonight and we didn’t have one hitter we went to every time, so it was awesome. Everybody got in, played a lot and played well.”
Lantis had a fine all-around contest as well, tallying 20 assists, nine digs and eight aces.
Wells said it is players like her who have the Colts at a place she hopes her Hornets can eventually get to.
“They’ve got a core group of girls who have been together for a long time and I know that makes a big difference. With Lantis and Leutheuser and Wonders, who has really stepped up…yeah they’re good, props to them,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll see them the rest of the season in some tournaments and hopefully we’ll get one of those and give them a run for their money.”
For now though Wells is just focused on getting her girls to buy into the idea that they have a great amount of potential and through hard work success will eventually come.
“It’s totally a concept of confidence. They just need to get the concept that they can go out there and do it,” she said. “I guess our biggest weakness is lacking confidence right now, as well as some experience and responding to some things that happen in a game. Instead of letting things happen three times and getting burned on it, we need to learn from something when it happens once and fix it.”
She said she has already seen glimpses of what this team can become in the first few weeks of the season and Jones was also complimentary in talking about the development of the opposing team.
“Hillsdale is a young team and we scrimmaged them in the preseason and they have come a long ways since then for sure,” she said. “They’re digging up everything, their libero did an awesome job getting everything tonight and we were impressed with how they played.”
Hannah Cleveland had a strong outing for Hillsdale, tallying seven digs, four kills and an ace. Chloe Jelenc added 11 digs and Lauren Chase had seven assists and an ace.