Between celebrating parents and seniors and picking up a conference win, last night was an exciting one for the Almont volleyball team.
“We were working fantastically on offense tonight,” head coach Mandy DeHondt said. “We’ve been playing a little more timid and haven’t been hitting like we should, but we came out today and just took control of the court.”
The Raiders hosted Armada in a four-set match, defeating the Tigers 25-15, 22-25, 25-21, 25-18. But before the competition got underway, the Raiders honored their parents and the team’s five seniors: Devin Johnston, Grace Koenig, Katie Cafek, Kendall Roszczewski, and Elly Schapman.
“It was just exciting having all of our friends and family here to watch us,” Schapman said. “I’m so glad to be back. The girls on the team are so fun and we’ve really bonded together.”
Schapman missed her junior season with a back injury and had surgery at the end of the school year. After a summer spent in recovery, her final season is extra special.
“I haven’t had a full season since freshman year because of Covid and then last year I was out because of my back, so it’s been a long process,” Schapman said. “Now I’m finally back and I’m like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe it. It went so fast.’”
Schapman and junior Lydia LaCavera led the Raiders offensively with nine and 14 kills, respecitvely. Schapman also recorded six blocks and LaCavera had 13 digs.
“Lydia’s doing great for us. She’s a solid offensive player for us and to have Elly back on the court is amazing,” DeHondt said. “She’s doing great and you wouldn't even know she had surgery. They’re definitely two of our bigger hitters and they played great today.”
Roszczewski also added seven kills and 15 digs on the night, Koenig recorded 39 assists, and Johnston had 15 digs.
The win jumps the Raiders to No. 4 in the conference standings at 4-5, and with two big league games ahead of them, DeHondt said the victory was much-needed.
“We’ve got some tough teams coming up [Imlay City and North Branch], so to have a win under our belt to play them and to start doing the things we should’ve done, I think it gives the girls a little bit of confidence going into it,” she said.
As for the Tigers, this season has been one of change and growth after graduating five seniors, including 6-foot-4 all-state hitter Anika Prisby, and welcoming a new coach, Scott Scribner, who said he's optimistic about the remainder of the season.
“[The match] was very entertaining. I saw a ton of really good passes and I thought the sets went up well, Almont just outdid us on serve receive,” he said. “I think we’re really coming along. Their ability to learn and get better is a huge plus for us right now. I think the future is bright.”
A key reason for that is libero Grace Ropes.
“Grace is only a sophomore, so she’s still a little out of control, but she's going to be something to watch in the next two years,” Scribner said. “We went to Hope and Rochester Colleges and both of the coaches there were watching her.”
Between Ropes' eagerness to dive and cover the court and the Tigers’ experience at the net with seniors Ella Sutton and Alayna Nowik, Armada will be ready to compete in the coming weeks.
“Alayna has got a really good jump, she seems like she just floats up there, and I thought Ella blocked really well tonight,” Scribner said.
Nowik recorded 15 kills on the night, Sutton had eight blocks, and Ropes tallied 17 digs to lead the team.
The Tigers will look to bounce back with another road game against Yale next Tuesday, and Almont will host a non-conference quad this Thursday before traveling to Imlay City next Wednesday.
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
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