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INA, Ill. (Aug. 26, 2014) – With the first big tournament under their belt, the Rend Lake College Lady Warrior Volleyball team is already on the road to a successful season led by seven-year veteran coach Sara Crews.
The Lady Warriors competed in the Vincennes University Tournament in Indiana last weekend, coming home 1-3 with a 3-0 win over Edison Community College of Piqua, Ohio. Crews said, as the first tournament of the year, she saw her team work hard despite the losses against Lake Land, Mineral Area, and Kalamazoo colleges – a trait she thinks will push them as the season goes on.
“We had some good moments at the tournament this weekend in Vincennes, and overall I was pleased,” said Crews. “We seemed to bounce back from errors better than in prior years and we put up better block numbers this weekend than I’ve ever had, so that will definitely make a huge difference this year. For example, in the Kalamazoo match, we were down 1-2 in sets, and the third set we lost pretty badly. We came back in the fourth and led most of the set, losing at the end 24-26. Based on prior experience, I would have never expected to play a team that closely after losing a set against them 11-25 in the third. Usually the girls just shut down after that, but this team didn’t.”
Crews said she saw more than just hard work on the floor last weekend in Indiana, she saw bigger numbers in the girls’ stats and a determination that reverberated throughout the weekend.
“I think this team has about as much talent as we’ve ever had,” said Crews. “The work ethic seems to be pretty good this year. I have seen kids pushing themselves in practice without me having to push them, and as a coach, that is something I really enjoy watching. As far as size goes, we appear to match up fairly well this year too. Mentally we seem to be in a better place than we have been in past years. We put up better block numbers this weekend than I’ve ever had, so that will definitely make a huge difference going into this year.”
With six returning players on the roster, Crews said she’s looking at the sophomores to help lead the team in the beginning of the season. The sophomore players are Sydney Crews (Mt. Vernon), Allie Lietz (Hoyleton), Rebekah Maddox (DuQuoin), Koral McBride (Murphysboro), Cassidy Melliere (Prairie du Rocher), and Rowdee Sanders (Carterville).
“It is obvious from watching my returning players that they have worked very hard to prepare for this season and their experience coming back as sophomores really stands out,” said Crews. “I have moved some sophomores to different positions in order to get them in the line-up and they have embraced the changes.”
Crews added she is expecting Melliere, who plays Libero on the team, to be the leader on the floor, keeping the team communicating and on-point.
“I definitely look to Cassidy as a leader because, as Libero, she is in charge offensively and defensively,” said Crews. “We can’t run any offense if we aren’t passing, so I really look to her to run things and make sure everyone is moving and communicating on that first contact so that we can set up our offense. When she does her job, everything else just seems to follow.”
Seven freshmen wrap up the team this year, including Danielle Bruns (Pinckneyville), Denise Bruns (Pinckneyville), Courtney Conrad (Benton), Emily Green (Wayne City), Ashley Modglin (Shiloh Hill), Kacee Roberts (Ewing), and Ashtyn Ward (Benton).
“The freshmen are already contributing substantially because, at this point in time, we are starting about 50-50 freshmen and sophomores,” said Crews. “They have a great deal of potential and based on their performance this weekend, are contributing which is what we need them to do.”
The Lady Warriors will continue their season tomorrow, Aug. 27, against Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville before traveling to Springfield for the Lincoln Land Tournament Friday, Aug. 29, and Saturday, Aug. 30. For all things athletic at The Lake, visit www.rlc.edu/warriors.