Volleyball: Panthers adjust to new tactics as postseason nears
Sky-Hi Daily News
As they go through a tactical transition late in the season, Middle Park High’s volleyball team suffered a loss but then rebounded with a win in matches last weekend.
In Friday’s match against Faith Christian, the Lady Panthers fell hard in three games. Recovering from that, Middle Park’s spikers then hosted Peak to Peak on Saturday and beat them in three games.
The changes the team is undergoing are both in personnel and tactics. Instead of relying on just one setter, the Lady Panthers are now going on the floor with two. They will rotate between the front and back rows during games.
The new tactical formation is being built around setters Anna Conrad and Cassie Strang.
“These two have stepped forward,” coach Kris Newberry said. “Anna is not only setting, but we want to preserve her attacking abilities. She is also one of our biggest blockers, and we want to use her height for hitting and blocking in the front row.
“With this step into a setting position, Cassie is showing real senior leadership,” Newberry added. “When she rotates into the front row, Quincey Pedersen or Mallory Nutting, both junior varsity players, will come in for her to give us more height.”
These changes began at the start of last week’s practices. The Lady Panthers may not have been fully “up to speed” by the time they took on the Eagles of Faith Christian in last Friday’s away match in Denver.
“Faith Christian is currently No. 2, but from our perspective, they are the best in the Metro League,” Newberry said. “Things didn’t go as well as we hoped. Faith Christian has quick offense and tough serving that was a bit more than we could handle.”
In the opening game, Middle Park was hit hard, falling 25-12. The Lady Panthers then rallied to put up a stiffer fight in the second game, but lost again 25-17. They lost the third game 25-10.
“We started playing better in that second game, using our new system,” Newberry said. “But in the third, we have to hang our heads. Faith Christian really came alive in that last game and we were not at the point where we could handle it.”
Newberry praised the playing of the team’s setting duo, but said the team’s service receiving and blocking were ineffective against the Eagles’ quick offense.
In the stats for the Lady Panthers, Elsa Krieg, Nina Palm and Shannan Stensvad earned one ace apiece. Krieg made 11 attacks, earning four kills while Hannah Brinkmann and Amelia Nicol each posted a seven-attack, two-kill ratio. Krieg also made three solo blocks while Stensvad had two and Brinkmann one.
Although they were overwhelmed by Faith Christian’s attacks, Middle Park’s players could still see that their new tactical plan was workable. With the confidence that they were on the right track, the Lady Panthers entered Saturday’s home match against Peak to Peak.
“It was a new day and a new look for our playing,” Newberry said. “The match against Faith was a good trial for our new system. We had much more success Saturday.”
It was evident in the first game as Middle Park’s new tactical formation paid off big time as the Lady Panthers powered to a 25-11 win. Peak to Peak fought harder in the second game, but could not match Middle Park’s offense that won a solid 25-17 win. The third game saw the Lady Panthers pick up the match win 25-20.
“Three wins in a row. We like that,” Newberry said.
The team’s hitter/setter Conrad led the offense with 11 attacks and eight kills, followed by Krieg with 14 attacks and six kills. Stensvad had 10 attacks and three kills. Quincey Pedersen earned a perfect three attacks, three kills. Kelsey Nordin had one back-row attack and one dig.
Krieg led on defense, posting three solo blocks again while Conrad and Nicol had one block each. In digs, Palm earned eight, followed by Conrad with seven and Krieg with four.
Middle Park’s new setters did a good job. Conrad had 13 assists and Strang had seven.
“We’re working hard to learn our new system to be prepared for post-season play,” Newberry said.
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