After dropping a match to host Benjamin Logan in the Volley the Cure early last week, Riverside promptly righted the ship, the Pirates needing a total of just eight sets to knock off visiting Lima Perry in DeGraff in a Northwest Central Conference match Sept. 17, and in sweeping a tri-match at Bradford Sept. 19, beating both the host Railroaders and Xenia Christian in straight sets.
With the win against Perry, Riverside remains undefeated in NWCC with a 3-0 conference record and improved to 8-5 overall with the two victories at Bradford.
“Our communication (on the court) was much better this weekend,” Riverside head coach Liz Kerr said, “and it’s something that we’re continuing to work on.”
Riverside sophomore standout Marissa Davis is continuing to hone her considerable outside hitting skills and has been making life miserable for the front lines of other NWCC schools. Kerr said the Pirates are getting out of what sports reporters call the Michael Jordan Syndrome (give the ball to MJ and get out of the way) in respects to Davis’s powerful right arm, which earned her a second-team all-conference spot as a freshman.
“A lot more people have stepped up,” Kerr said, citing the play of Lauryn Davis (Marissa’s big sister), sophomores Lauren Anderson and Kristin Davidson, and freshman Shelby Giles. “They’ve helped take the pressure off Marissa.”
With only three seniors and one junior on her squad, Kerr has said from day one that some of her underclassmen would have to step for Riverside to prosper, and they have responded well. Anderson’s spider-on-a-hotplate play earned her a seat at the big girls’ table as Kerr moved her up from JV to play varsity full-time, and Giles is “getting it” in Kerr’s words. Having not played volleyball before, Giles was the one with wide eyes when the season started, but has toned down the jitters and turned up her frontline play.
The Davis sisters combined for well over half of the Pirates’ 44 kills against the Commodores, with Marissa knocking down 17 (plus five aces) and Lauryn killing 14. Junior Helena Faulder kicked in with a perfect serving record (four serves, four aces) and sophomore Alexis Snow had three aces.
The Pirates gave up a total of only 52 points in the four-set sweep of Bradford and Xenia Christian.
Next up for Riverside is Sidney Lehman on Thursday, Sept. 24 in DeGraff. The Cavaliers handed the Pirates their only conference loss last year while going a perfect 6-0 themselves in winning the NWCC title. This was rumored to be ‘down’ year for Lehman volleyball because of the loss to graduation of a number of key players from last season, but someone forgot to tell the Cavaliers. As of press time, Lehman is 9-3 overall and 2-0 in the conference.
Thursday, Sept 17
Riverside 3, Lima Perry 1 (23-25, 26-24, 25-19, 25-19)
Saturday, Sept 19
Riverside 2, Bradford 0 (25-14, 25-10)
Riverside 2, Xenia Christian 0 (25-12, 25-16)
Tom Stephens is a regular contributor to this newspaper.