Drake serves Redwood a home court defeat

Drake+blockers+prepare+to+jump+as+senior+McKenzie+Cooke+makes+contact+with+the+ball.

Drake blockers prepare to jump as senior McKenzie Cooke makes contact with the ball.

Rachel Schten

Video by Rachel Schten

A large crowd of Redwood fans looking patriotic in a plethora of red, white and blue headbands, leggings, t-shirts and other paraphernalia showed their support for the girls’ varsity volleyball team with rowdy chants and the occasional impromptu dance solo. However, this upwelling of star-spangled energy began to fizzle as the home team struggled to find its rhythm after a flat start.

Drake’s powerful, accurate serving allowed them to defeat Redwood three sets to two at Redwood’s first game night of the year. Redwood lost both the first and third set 23-25, but managed to make a comeback in the second and fourth, beating Drake 25-23 in both sets. However, in the tie breaking fifth set, Redwood trailed from the first point and lost 9-15.

Redwood was unsuccessful at passing Drake’s serves to their setter throughout the match, an issue that became apparent from the opening points of the first set.

The first five points of the match went to Drake, all scored because of Redwood errors on serve receives, according to varsity coach Katie Pease.

“They had 18 aces against us tonight which is a little bit of an issue. I think that is where the game was won and lost, in the serve receive,” Pease said.

Redwood had a total of seven aces. Junior Olivia Treadway and sophomore Britney Klein served three aces each, while senior Claire Jackson served one.

“I think we need to practice on serving under pressure because when we serve under pressure, we make loopy serves and not hard serves like they were,” said junior Alex Lefebure.

This year, Redwood has a very young squad, with five underclassmen out of the 12 players on the roster. In addition, two of the underclassmen are freshmen.

“[The underclassmen] did the best they could do which is great. They did really well,” Lefebure said.

According to Pease, Lefebure had a strong performance.

“Alex Lefebure, the junior, really stepped it up tonight- defensively, offensively. I thought she was fantastic,” Pease said.

Junior Desi D’Ancona also said that Lefebure stood out. According to D’Ancona, Lefebure hurt her finger badly but played well through the injury.

“She did an incredible job forgetting about that and going after every ball,” D’Ancona said.

Lefebure had a team high 28 digs, a vital contribution given that Redwood struggled on defense for much of the match.

According to Olivia Treadway, Redwood’s defense caused them to lose the final set. Redwood had struggled on defense in the previous four sets as well.

In the second set and fourth set, Redwood did not let balls drop or make as many errors as in the first, third, and fifth. Treadway also said her team lacked communication in the first set.

“We started off a lot of the sets loosing a couple of points and having to catch up and that really hurt us,” she said.

Drake’s strong hitters contributed to Redwood’s defensive difficulties. According to Lefebure, Redwood went into the match knowing that Drake was strong at hitting.

“I put my hitters in a one-on-one opportunity which gave us a really big advantage on getting kills and scoring points which helped a lot,” said Hailey Ramsey, a setter for Drake.

According to Desi D’Ancona, Drake’s right sides strategic hit location  made it difficult for Redwood to dig the ball.

Lefebure said that though they knew Drake was strong at hitting, Redwood was surprised at how potent Drake’s defense was.

“That’s kind of how we went into it, thinking their defense wouldn’t be as good as it was,” she said.

According to Nique D’Ancona, Redwood should have avoided hitting into zone six because that is where Drake had key defenders, and instead should have hit toward the sidelines like Drake.

Ramsey said that their defense gave them an edge. She also said that their blocking played an important part in their win.

However, according to Nique D’Ancona, Drake’s middles were not tall or particularly skilled, and Redwood should have capitalized on this weakness.

“Their middles were definitely weaker and that is why we could swing away from them or swing towards that seam,” Nique D’Ancona said.

Treadway said that Redwood was unable to get many strong sets or hits and also lost some points because passing was a challenge during the first set, third set, and fifth set of the match.

“I think that we made a lot of passing errors because we weren’t low enough,” she said.

Staying low will also allow Redwood to successfully receive powerful serves like Drake’s in the future, Treadway said.

“I think our passing was there [in the second and fourth sets] so we were able to run our offense and get kills. Everything starts with that first pass,” Pease said.

Redwood, currently 11-10 overall and 5-3 in MCALs, is ranked third in the league behind Branson in first and Marin Catholic in second. Drake, 9-9 overall and 4-4 in MCALs, is ranked sixth.

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, Redwood will play their next game away against Justin Siena who is currently ranked fourth.