It is homecoming week and the team is rolling, so it would have been easy for the Moline Maroons to have a let down on Thursday against United Township at Wharton Field House.
Not so much.
The Maroons (12-5-2, 4-0 in the Western Big 6) played near-perfect volleyball in a 25-8, 25-7 win over United Township (0-7, 0-2).
"I feel like we have kids who are involved and busy all the time, so they know how to handle things like this week," Moline coach Mike Ducey said. "They keep really strong focus. I also love the priority our kids have put into volleyball. They don't care who is on the other side, they play to be better every game."
That is evident from talking to the players.
"We play to win every point no matter what the score is," junior Kamara Dickerson said. "We just keep working hard because anything is possible with this team this season."
The Maroons blew open Set 1 with a 10-0 run to jump ahead 19-9 and then finished it with a 5-0 run. Bella Mitchell was huge in that set with four service aces and four kills. She finished with six kills, six aces, 11 assists and eight digs.
"Bell is just a player who shows you don't have to be a specialist to be a star," Ducey said. "She is a complete player and there are still ways we can use her to help."
Megan Pittington also had six kills and a block, Dickerson added four kills and and seven digs, and Maddie Peterson chipped in three aces and 12 digs.
"We only had five unforced errors in both games, and no team is going to lose when you can do that," Ducey said.
The Maroons were equally dominant in Set 2, jumping out to an 11-1 lead and cruising to the sweep.
The one-sided victory also meant Ducey could make it a happy homecoming for the entire Moline bench, using everyone liberally in the second set.
"I feel like our bench is such a big reason for our success," Ducey said. "They are the ones who practice against the starters and push them. In fact, they beat them the other day.
"Those are a lot of the sophomore and juniors who people don't know anything about until they become juniors and seniors and take over as starters. Kamara is one of those players. It feels like she has been a starter for two or three years and she is halfway through her first year as a starter."
Dickerson waited her time and has been a standout this season.
"I actually enjoyed it last year, sitting and learning from the seniors," Dickerson said. "Now I'm enjoying playing loose and free. I don't press to make up for lost time, I just do what I am supposed to do."
The game also gave senior Grace Gordon a nice homecoming present with some extra playing time. She said the team from top to bottom was so well grounded this week.
"We all have enjoyed homecoming week and participated in all the festivities, but when the game started, we were all business," Gordon said. "It was so much fun to have all of the bench players get to play a lot (Thursday). I don't mind not playing a lot, I just enjoy being a part of this team. To me, this is an honor to be a Maroon."