Neither team played as sharp as they are capable of, but North Adams-Jerome had more than enough offense to keep Pittsford on the ropes in a Rams’ sweep in SCAA volleyball action Friday.
N A-J looked tired at times, a product of a long, grinding tournament at JCC last weekend, but when their energy peaked they showed why they were capable of beating some pretty big schools at that exact tournament.
The Rams won 25-17, 25-15, 25-16 to improve to 15-3 overall and 4-0 in the league.
Kittle said his girls were a little “whipped, sick and tired” coming into this match and he attributed junior Megan Brown for giving his team a little jump-start of enthusiasm when some of her teammates were lacking.
In the back row she was willing to sacrifice her body to go after any ball, up front she was constantly communicating with teammates and Kittle said her efforts are something that sometimes get overlooked.
“I thought Megan Brown, her energy level…she is just always screaming and trying to get her team more involved,” he said. “It doesn’t show up in the stats a lot, but just her energy level helps. I’m proud of her and she works hard — she’s a special player.”
It showed up in the stats as well Tuesday, as Brown had six kills and five digs.
Miranda Hammons also had a big night, with nine kills and five digs, while Mallory Trumble had three digs.
Kristen Trudell and Shannen Kittle weren’t their normal chipper selves, as they were battling through some illnesses, but Trudell still had 15 assists, seven digs, five kills and four aces, and Kittle had 11 digs.
Aside from a second set that saw the Wildcats commit too many errors and get called for several violations, they actually had leads fairly deep into the other two sets.
Brittany Houser and Nicole Culbert were forcing the Rams to retreat with some powerful kill opportunities, but head coach Holly Clark said that aggressiveness faded away, as the girls tried to find gaps instead of use their strength.
“I feel my girls came out strong hitting at first and then backed off and that was the difference in the game in my opinion. We worked on trying to hit the holes some ourselves, and maybe the girls took that too far if you will, stopped hitting a little bit and were trying on hitting the holes,” she said. “I think if they had continued to attack it might have been a closer game, maybe a different outcome.”
Pittsford came out with a burst of energy in the final set and took an 11-4 lead, but the Rams got back to running their offense and the Wildcats just ran out of gas, as the match finished with a 21-5 N A-J run.
Clark wouldn’t concede that the Rams offense was simply too much for her defense to handle, but she did explain why she thought her team struggled.
“I think that North Adams is a very good team at putting the other team on defense a lot and not letting the other team set up their offense very well,” she said. “They find the holes really well, so your team on defense is constantly moving, it’s not a good pass every time then.”
Conversely, Kittle thought his team was at more of an advantage when they were relying on their raw athleticism, timing and power.
“(Pittsford) is so tall and it’s hard for us to get around them and we struggled with that. They blocked us numerous times and it’s hard to hit against that team — they’re really tall,” he said. “We had to stay in our offense, we got away from that and tried to dink and dump around and (Pittsford) made some really nice plays on it. If we would’ve stayed on offense we would have been a lot better off.”
Pittsford falls to 4-5 overall and 1-1 in the SCAA, but Clark has a core group of five seniors and a junior who are determined to bring more victories to Wildcat faithful.
Seniors Katelyn Kipfmiller, Culbert and Samantha Nichols hardly ever take a breather and Houser and Ashley Buckner are consistent play-makers, while junior Abbie Brackman is a key defensive player.
“Those six players in my mind are very aggressive, competitive girls,” Clark said. “Usually every night they are coming out and being the ones who are loud and they want a ‘W.'”
Nichols had 13 assists and seven digs on the night, Brackman had eight digs and Culbert had seven kills and two blocks.