By Marcos Aragon
For Shockwave 17-1, the last 24 hours have been full of turmoil and rough times. But today’s matchup against Athena 17 Gold was anything but rough for them at the Triple Crown Volleyball NIT.
Shockwave head coach Scott Larkin knew his team’s energy level had to be higher Sunday after his team endured a rough set of circumstances prior to Saturday night’s final match.
“It was great today, last night was rough. We got done with pool and had a three-way tie for first. We had to sit for an hour and wait for a team to come back. It was really rough,” said Larkin. “We didn’t come back to play. We got hammered last night in our playoff match, and they came ready to play today.”
By the time Shockwave finished their last match of the night, it was around 11:45 pm. The team is from Wichita, KS, and is not used to the time change. For the players internally, it was nearly 1 am for them when the match ended and most of the team did not get to sleep until a short while later.
Rather than fold to excuses, Shockwave took out their frustrations on Athena, claiming a 25-15, 25-21 victory in the 17’s Club division.
“We had a bit of a rough day, so I think we brought that energy into today and we weren’t going to let that rough start yesterday stop us,” said Shockwave player Sarah Brittain. “When your teammates do really great things, it makes you get more excited… we just carried on each other’s energy.”
Shockwave dominated the net both defensively and offensively. Athena’s hitters struggled mightily to get the ball past the Shockwave blockers. The length of Shockwave’s players along the net was an enormous problem for Athena that they went after time and time again. Larkin credited the physical advantage they had and figuring out what shots Athena liked to take.
“I don’t want to say they were predictable, but they had their favorite shots that we were able to take away,” added Larkin.
“Before the game, our coach said ‘defense wins championships’ so they just really worked on not necessarily closing the block but if they leave holes for us it really helps the back row get in there and step in and get some digs,” said Brittain. “They did their part and as a back row, we just try to do ours.”
The defense was the foundation for the win, but the offense of Shockwave was surgical in their shot selection. When Athena played aggressively at the net, Shockwave simply just put the ball around their blockers. The weak spot for Athena was the center of their defense and the middles, so Shockwave set up for success in that area.
Brittain compared last night’s energy to today’s saying they were “more settled in, more focused and ready to take care of business.”