By Kyle Koso
KANSAS CITY, Mo – For the Elevation 18 Elite volleyball squad, there’s no real shock when those players get rolling and build leads in a given match.
It’s also true, however, that the Cincinnati-based team has seen opponents come back and make things interesting, maybe more compelling than necessary. There was some give and take in Saturday’s match against Minnesota Select, but Elevation muscled up over the long haul to claim a 25-16, 25-19 Power Pool victory to go to 2-1 on the day at the Triple Crown NIT.
Falling in three sets to Sunshine (CA) to start the day left Elevation a tad frustrated, but the plan wisely turned to just letting their skills rise to the surface. Against Minnesota Select, Elevation had a 10-3 lead in Game 1, saw it shrink to 14-10, then pulled away as Maggie King and Julia Wilkins thumped away on offense.
In Game 2, a 7-7 score tipped to Elevation’s favor (17-11), then back to 20-18, but again an ability to survive long points got the job done.
“Sometimes, we get ahead and back off on the intensity. We just remind each other constantly to play at our level and not stoop down to anything else,” said King, who will play college volleyball at Western Michigan. “We didn’t start today on the right foot, but we put that match behind us. We’re good at looking forward and how we can improve the next set. Our chemistry is amazing, and we get along very well.”
King authored a series of difficult serves, swinging from the back right corner well away from the court in her unusual fashion.
“Last year at the beginning of club season, I was serving a lot of them out, so my coach changed it up so I have more angle going diagonally,” King added.
Wilkins (headed to play at Seton Hall) caused a lot of damage with kills on slide plays to the right pin; Minnesota Select never really solved it, and it was a reliable source of points all match.
“We had a rough start and were kind of mad about it,” she said. “And when we get up a bit, we do let up, and we have to remind each other we aren’t not done yet, and we have to keep working.
“I’m normally not the middle, I usually am right side, but our middle was gone … the (slide play), I’ve played with (setter) Logan (Case) in club and high school, so we have a pretty good connection.”
Defensively, Elevation worked hard and did a nice job neutralizing the effect of Syra Tanchin, a North Dakota State signee who had arguably the most potent swing for the opposition.
Elevation coach Lisa Schaad also got great production from Jada Bouyer, who is new to the team this year, and Sam Wolf also smoked a series of kills shots, one bouncing so hard off the block it flew into the upper reaches of the convention center, delaying the match until another ball was tracked down.
“We got better as the day went on. Hopefully, we will continue that,” Schaad said. “Our team has always seems to face a trouble-server, someone on the other side of the net who gives us a lot of trouble, so it happens and our girls are used to that. They know they need to dig in and get two points for every one after that big server.
“We don’t have a ton of size, but I believe mental strength can beat physical strength any day. This team has that mental strength and chemistry, but unfortunately we don’t get ranked on that.”