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PREP VOLLEYBALL | ROCK ISLAND 2, QUINCY 0

Rock Island volleyball sweeps Quincy to snatch sole possession of second

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Kayla Rice and Sienna Mikaio

Rice (left) and Mikaio (right) 

With the match tied in the second set, Sienna Mikaio reacted instinctively.

Quincy had blocked a Rock Island kill attempt, and Mikaio flung her arm out as the ball zipped back right toward her face. The senior libero kept the rally alive, and Kayla Rice capitalized on the play with a kill that deflected off of a Quincy defender and flew into the stands.

The play sparked a 5-0 run that sealed Rock Island’s 25-18, 25-21 sweep of Quincy on Thursday at Rock Island High School.

“That play gave us momentum,” Rice said. “It was a close game and then all of a sudden you get a ball that you’re able to get a kill on like that — and we just all turned around and cheered. It made us happy.”

Mikaio led the team with nine digs on a night that the Rocks displayed high-level defensive effort throughout. Not many balls dropped and communication allowed defense to turn into offense.

“That’s what we saw there (with Kayla and Sienna),” Rock Island coach Morgan Gray said. “Sienna does a great job talking with the hitters in case the ball comes right back to our side. It gives your hitters a lot of confidence to go up and swing again. That was a great defensive effort that turned into an offensive effort.”

The win moved Rock Island (11-6, 6-1) into sole possession of second place in the Western Big 6. Quincy (8-6, 5-2) entered the night tied with Rocky. Thursday ended a week for the Rocks that also included sweeps over Princeton and Geneseo.

“We’re definitely clicking right now,” Gray said. “Everyone is playing their roles. I’m so proud of my girls because despite everything that is going on, we come out here and play every single game to the last point. It’s a total team effort.”

The entire team showed out in the first set. Rock Island jumped ahead 15-9 behind a service game that left Quincy without an answer. The Rocks finished with seven aces and when they didn’t get an ace, the Blue Devil offense was still forced to hit uncomfortable shots.

“In the first set, every server in each rotation had an ace,” Gray said. “That’s really impressive. We work on serving a lot in practice and the mindset it takes going into serving. That’s all it is. It’s about the mindset you have behind the service line. I also think we do a good job picking at the serve receive seams.”

Rocky picked at those seams in both games, but it was most evident during the first set. Quincy made 13 total errors or violations in Rock Island’s first set victory and never looked comfortable offensively.

“We work on pressure serving and creating chaos,” Mikaio said. “It may not always be an ace, but it will force the other team out of system and put the ball in a place where we can execute.”

However, Quincy jumped on Rock Island to start the second set. The Blue Devils went ahead 7-2 behind a couple of aces on the back line.

Rock Island regrouped when it got Rice going offensively. The senior outside hitter stopped Quincy’s run and allowed the Rocky defense to get back on track.

“Quincy was doing a great job making our defense move, playing balls in the corners and playing the short tips, and we had to make some adjustments on those plays,” Gray said. “But I was glad to see us make those during the game and convert some.”

The match stayed close until 19-19, and then Mikaio had the save that turned into a Rice kill. From there, Rock Island took a 24-19 lead and walked away with its third sweep in four days.

“I thought we were really scrappy tonight,” Mikaio said. “Our blockers and setters were playing really well defensively and we executed everything. One thing we aimed for was going for every single ball, and I felt like we did that tonight.”

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