With just a few players with experience returning this season, it would be fair to say the Davenport Assumption volleyball team has some questions to answer during the early part of the season.
The Knights might have answered a lot of them after the first match of the season. Assumption showed just how much firepower it can muster in an overwhelming victory over Davenport West on Tuesday night in the Mississippi Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
The Knights recorded 36 kills as a team in the match, which came from six different players en route to a 25-12, 25-7, 25-14 win at the Falcons' Nest. Freshman AJ Schubert and senior Kylie Welch led the attack with nine kills each while Emma Schubert chipped in another eight.
But it didn't stop there as Piper Seberg (five kills), Claire Smith (three kills) and Peyton Seberg (two kills) were just as dominating at the net in the offensive attack. West simply had no answer for the Knights' height and athleticism in the front court.
Assumption coach Bre Scherler said she almost has too many good players and will try to find a good balance of playing time for her talented but young squad, which has just two seniors in Welch and Jessica Stratman.
Scherler added it was a good problem to have.
"We've been working really hard the last couple of weeks to really spread our offense around and that showed tonight," Scherler said. "We have a battle going on for our middles and it is super competitive every day in practice but it raises the level of everyone's play. The effort the whole team has given has made everyone better."
And it was not just the tall people in the front that were doing damage. Junior setter Annabelle Costello and Stratman ran the offense smoothly, distributing solid passes to set up the kills. Costello finished with 19 assists while Stratman contributed nine assists. Costello also had three aces in the second game victory. Katie Anderson and Bri Gartner also had solid serving runs that kept the Falcons out of sync offensively most of the contest.
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But it was the freshman Schubert who did not seemed fazed at all for her first high school volleyball match. Schubert came to the Knights already with extensive experience in club volleyball play and it showed. Her play at the net seemed like she was a four-year varsity player — although she said it did not feel that way in the beginning.
"It was actually scary at first but once you get the motion going and you get to play with everyone and everyone is working together, it's really exciting," AJ Schubert said. "Your adrenaline gets pumping and you get into the game and everything is fine."
And what about all those different weapons at the net?
"It's awesome because you can trust anyone to finish the play," AJ Schubert said. "You don't have to just count on one or two people for a kill."
For the Falcons, Grace Sander had three kills while Hailey Stewart chipped in a kill and three digs. Alex Solbrig added another five digs for the home team. West hurt itself with 19 unforced errors, including four times it lost points on a technical errors before service was even brought into play.
West coach Jillian Donath used all six of her timeouts during the match to try and calm her team down after the Knights had built big leads. During the timeouts, she said she just tried to get her team to relax and make the simple plays.
"We struggled with our passing and serve-receive, which is our strong point," Donath said. "Those (technical) errors can really stop momentum when you are trying to get going. You have to take advantage of every point and you cannot afford to give away any points. It can be hard in that short period of time (timeouts) to change their mentality. We just have to slow some things down, don't get ahead of yourself and remember the basics. Just make the easy plays and force the other team to make the errors."