Volleyball Overcomes Waterford in Second Round of States



After an almost two-hour bus ride that lasted nearly the same time it took them to win their second-round state match, the Woodland Hawks Volleyball team righted a wrong from last year.  A deja vu journey for many Woodland players–last year they drove to Waterford for the first round of states only to suffer a crushing defeat after being up in the first two sets but dropped the final three sets.

This year the Hawks were out for blood.

“We wanted redemption and nothing was going to stop us from getting it.”
-Stephanie Krebbs.

“We wanted redemption and nothing was going to stop us from getting it,” said middle hitter, Stephanie Krebbs. “My freshman year we lost in the semi-finals, so I wanted it even more. I wasn’t going to let them beat us three times.”

The Hawks fought hard the first two sets but ended up dropping both (20-25, 16-25). The real game changer was the third set. Letting go of the memories from the first two sets and, perhaps inspired by set-two defensive heroics of their offset, Layne Cronin, the Hawks focused on the task at hand and took a decisive third set (25-18).  With a renewed energy led by the defense of outside hitter, Alyssa Lukeski, and the distribution of the ball by primary setter, Fatima Khalid, the Hawks rallied in the third.

“Our communication wasn’t there during the first two sets but we started talking a lot in the last three. If a mistake was made, we just shook it off and got the next point, which helped us not get in our heads,” declared Lukeski. “But, the most important part was how aggressive we played.”

Steph Krebbs(middle) passes the ball as Sydnie Overby(left) and Alyssa Lukeski(right) cover her.

 

“Our communication wasn’t there during the first two sets but we started talking a lot in the last three. If a mistake was made, we just shook it off and got the next point, which helped us not get in our heads,” declared Lukeski. “But, the most important part was how aggressive we played.”

After trading rallies and volleys, the score knotted at 9-9 until Lexie Chabot, senior outside hitter, drilled a shot out of the weak side into the defensive seam to break the tie and win serve. She held her service for four additional points that the Hawks, supported by defensive passes from Rachel Poulos and Lukeski and the dominating blocks by Krebbs.

Waterford never got back on track as Lukeski and Krebbs combined for five additional kills, and Krebbs capped the set with three aces.

Set four was more of the same as Waterford never got within three points of striking distance, and lost sight of Woodland as Krebbs stepped behind the line for a service which included three aces.  With a 10-point advantage, the Hawks poured on the offense with Krebbs and Chabot leading the charge and sophomore middle blocker, Elayna Beutel, protecting the net.

With tension running high, the fan sections for both Woodland and Waterford were heated up as the two team captains met for the coin flip for the fifth and deciding set. Woodland chose to keep Waterford off their home courtside, while Waterford chose to serve the start of the final set.

Lexie Chabot goes up to hit against a double block while Fatima Khalid and Elayna Beutel cover her.

After a quick side out for the Lancers, the Hawks jumped out to an early lead of 7-0 on the strength and consistency of Lukeski’s serve. After stalling for a few points, Krebbs regained the advantage with a thunderous block and the Hawks never looked back. Buoyed by a Cronin service run and aided by Chabot’s three kills, Krebbs fired the final shot from the back row and scored not only a 2018 win (20-25, 16-25, 25-18, 25-17, 15-7) but Woodland’s redemption from the 2015 and 2017 losses to the Lancers.

“The fact that we pulled ourselves out of a rut that big at such a crucial time was incredible and gave us a sense of ‘anything is possible.’ Like Coach says, ‘It’s anyone, anywhere, anytime.’” – Lexie Chabot

 

Fatima Khalid jump sets the ball.

“The fact that we pulled ourselves out of a rut that big at such a crucial time was incredible and gave us a sense of ‘anything is possible.’,” said Chabot. “Like Coach says, ‘It’s anyone, anywhere, anytime.’”

The Hawks advance to quarterfinals against Montville Indians at home this Friday.

“Last night after the game we were so hyped up and excited about our win,” said May Dawes, Woodland libero. “I think we’re gonna be ready, and we’re going to carry that energy over to Friday.”

The Hawks may be focused on winning Friday’s match but Khalid knows the team has their eyes set on a bigger prize as well.

“We’ve definitely been looked at as the underdogs so being able to put out everything we’ve worked for is a great feeling,” said Khalid.  “We know we deserve the state champs title more than anyone because of how hard we work every day.” 

 

Photo Credit: Steve Montambault

 

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